Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
FORMER JAMAICA Hotel and Tourist Association President Josef Forstmayr is calling on the Government to waive visa requirement for Central and South American countries, as Jamaica seeks to tap into that region's emerging tourism markets.
Forstmayr made the call while speaking at Thursday's University of Technology's Public Forum at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Rose Hall, which was staged under the theme '50 Years of Tourism Growth and Beyond'.
"We continue to erect the barriers to travel that we have inherited and we end up in a bureaucratic jungle trying to work our way through it," said Forstmayr. "We have to introduce our visitors to the best of Jamaica."
Forstmayr is also advocating for the abolition of immigration forms, which are filled out at the point of entry when a visitor arrives in the island. He argued that in this technological age, visitors should be able to swipe their passports and information is relayed.
"When the visitors come to the airport and especially when Jamaicans are coming home, they have to fill out forms and join long lines," noted Forstmayr. "We could make this much simpler by using technology."
Government won't abolish forms
Damion Crawford, the state minister for tourism, told The Gleaner in a subsequent interview that the Government would not be thinking of abolishing the forms as they provide vital information on health issues, and other data relevant to the processing of people coming to Jamaica.
However, Crawford indicated that the forms could be revamped to capture the relevant information as briefly as possible.
Additionally, Crawford noted that the acquisition of a visa also carries a fee, which is revenue the Government could not give up at this time.