|Hassle-free movement for CWC 2007 travellers
...CARICOM'S biggest legacy looms
Observer staff reporter
Sunday, July 16, 2006
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as a body, could achieve the biggest legacy at the end of next year's International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup (CWC) after the testing of a hassle-free travelling system.
Between January and May 2007, travellers in the region will not be required to have their documents processed to clear customs and immigration once they are journeying from any of the nine host venue countries or Dominica, created as an isolated "single domestic space".
And according to Derek Jones, senior legal council for ICC CWC 2007, the landmark achieved by the regional leaders could be the "most important" legacy at the conclusion of the event, once they have passed the test for the hassle-free movement of the people around these 10 countries.
"I'm surprise by the lack of coverage of what to me is probably the most single most important political development in this region in my lifetime," Jones said. "We have been talking about Federation, from I was a little boy, CARICOM, CSME and so on and so forth... this has happened because of cricket, and because of the power of cricket and what it means to us in this part of the world."
Jones, who was speaking at a recent Sunset Legislation press briefing at the Jamaica local organising committee's (LOC) headquarters, added: "It is the most important political development, as far as I am concerned, in this region in 50 years. And regardless of anything else, if that became a legacy from the World Cup, I don't think there is anything more important..."
The comments of the ICC CWC 2007 legal council head came after the conclusion of the 27th Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) meeting in Bird Rock, St Kitts/Nevis recently.
The West Indies will host the ninth ICC Cricket World Cup between March 11 and April 28 next year.
The hassle-free movement of travellers prior to and during this period has been made possible after the CARICOM heads signed off on the framework on crime and security for hosting the third largest sporting spectacle on the planet.
"This strategy includes the creation of a single domestic space and arrangements for the security of this single space," informed a communiqué released at the conclusion of the July 6 meeting.
"The components of this strategy are: The introduction of a common CARICOM Visa Policy applicable to nationals for 46 countries; an Advance Passenger Information System and Standard Procedures to be applied at Ports of Entry which will allow the pre-clearance of people and goods..."
International visitors will be treated similar once their travel documents have been processed from within the prescribed domestic space.
However, all travellers must travel with the requisite travel documents, in case there is an issue of identification, so as to validate their true identity.
But, it has not been said how soon the CARICOM visas will be available for overseas fans, who are expected to be in the Caribbean for the duration of the tournament.
"A memorandum of intent is to be signed shortly with the Government of the USA with reference to support for the Advance Passenger Information System. In addition, Interpol will shortly be establishing a presence in the region from January 2007.
An aggressive public education programme will be launched shortly to apprise CARICOM nationals and all visitors to the region about these new arrangements," read the official statement.
Meanwhile, Chris Dehring, managing director and chief executive officer for the ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007 Inc, lauded the CARICOM leaders for the initiatives agreed on for security and immigration for the mega event.
"We are very pleased by the steps agreed to by the leaders of CARICOM to ensure the safe and fluid passage of fans throughout the Caribbean during tournament time. As someone who travels the Caribbean often, the thought of being able to simply get off the plane, go through the airport and not wait in an immigration line for processing is mind-blowing. This is an historic day for the region," Dehring was quoted as saying in a report posted on the website of the official event.
"This is something we have been working towards as we know it will definitely ease the flow of people going to matches around the Caribbean and remove a major obstacle. Everyone should be able to move around with less hassle," added Dehring, who was also in the St Kitts and Nevis meeting with the regional heads. "Of course, it is a courageous step because if it works well for the event, Caribbean people may well decide that is how they want it to be forevermore."
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