Caricom faces legal action

Sources in Holland told Newsday that the countries are considering the action because of the sudden introduction of the visa and the creation of a state without proper international protocol. Newsday has not been able to determine which Hague court the countries plan to complain to. A Tobago House of Assembly contingent is currently participating in a trade fair in Holland to promote Tobago despite recent reports of cancellations.

Visitors for the cricket tournament which began in March are required to have a special visa to allow easy travel among the countries where matches will be played. However, Caricom sought to introduce the measure from this month, and has since pushed it back to February.

The requirement applies to all classes of travellers to the region. Tobago tour operators said they have been hard hit, receiving cancellations from Scandinavian countries as travellers originating in that area would have to secure the visas from London.

Newsday yesterday learned that a group of tour operators met in Norway yesterday and the majority decided to shift the Sandinavian market to other destinations while a few opted to incur visa costs themselves to maintain their reputations. Sources said a tour operator in Thailand has offered a free familiarisation trip to Scandinavian-based counterparts and has proposed two-star and three-star hotel room accommodation from US$25 per night as opposed to US$80 to US$100 per night in Tobago.

The operators are said to be grabbing at the offer which they say would be more profitable and pleasing to customers who would be able to get refunds. President of the Tobago Hotel Association Rene Seepersadsingh said the move came as no surprise since it was a good opportunity for tourism countries outside the Caribbean.

He said because of its cheap labour and other factors, Thailand would be able to comfortably offer lower prices than Tobago and the Caribbean.

He added that he has been in contact with the Caribbean Hotel Association and was surprised by the overwhelming number of concerns they have had from hotel associations.

Seepersadsingh also said that since Monday, he has been barraged with e-mails from tour operators who were concerned about revenue losses, and confirmed that Tobago hotels had reported cancellations.

Tourism Minister Howard Chin Lee is expected to meet with THA Chief Secretary Orville London and Tourism Secretary Neil Wilson tomorrow to discuss reasonable solutions to the effects of the visa requirements. Chin Lee has suggested that Government subsidise the US$100 visa.


"Caricom faces legal action"

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