March 15, 2013 | 5:18 pm | Print
Above: UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai (Photo: UNWTO)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Jamaica’s government has announced a visa waiver for tourists originating in Eastern European countries including Russia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine.
The visa applies to tourists from those countries for up to 30 days, was made official earlier this month.
It comes after several of the countries sent their first ever flights to Jamaica. In December, Montego Bay received its first flight from Prague, while Russia’s Transaero began nonstop service to Montego Bay in January.
Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, said he welcomed the move.
“Easing visa policies generates new opportunities for tourism growth and the consequent economic benefits that it brings,” he said. “Jamaica’s decision is encouraging and sets an example for the way forward.”
Jamaica also announced it would be extending its current visa waiver system for nationals from Colombia, Panama and Venezuela.
“Travelers regard visas as a formality which entails a cost,” he said. “This can be a deterrent to travel if costs – whether monetary or indirect – including distance, wait times and service, exceed a certain threshold.”