Caricom Heads say yes to resuming single space for easier travel

-strategy for discussion

Caricom Heads have passed a directive which could eventually see the implementation of the hassle-free travel that was in place in the region for the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

A communiqué yesterday from the recent Caricom Heads summit in Trinidad and Tobago said that  “Heads of Government with regard to the re-introduction of the Single Domestic Space (SDS) in the interest of hassle-free Travel in the Region, … mandated the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration with CARICOM IMPACS and other relevant agencies to coordinate and commence discussions on the strategy for the reintroduction of the SDS.

“They referred a number of issues in this sector to the Bureau of Heads of Government including better co-ordination among airlines in the Region with a view to providing a better service.”

The 2007 World Cup was hosted by a number of Caricom countries and this necessitated a hassle-free system for travellers who were going from one country to the other for the games.

In May of this year, Caricom Ministers of Transport recommended at a meeting that the region return to the Single Domestic Space (SDS) employed during the ICC Cricket World Cup, citing ongoing problems for travellers between member states and poor customer service from border control officers.

The ministers had lamented then that Caricom nationals encountered unnecessary problems as they travelled across the region and this was not only limited to scant regard paid to the Caricom Passport, which entitles holders to an automatic six-month stay in member states.

“The Meeting recognised that there were challenges with respect to frequent security checks and cooperation between the regional airlines, among other things, which negatively affected the travelling public and had repercussions for business and tourism as well,” the release said. The ministers also agreed that much work had to be done to improve customer service among Border Control officers in the Region.

The meeting agreed that the Conference of Heads of Government would  be asked to revisit its decision to discontinue the inexpensive arm band system which facilitated hassle-free regional travel during the World Cup. The success of that initiative and its popularity with citizens of the Community was alluded to during the discussion.

The SDS, involving ten Caricom member states, was established for World Cup 2007. It featured freedom of movement for all domestic travellers and a Special Visa stamped at the first port of entry for travellers from outside the region to allow hassle-free movement among the participating SDS states, among other components. “Measures to support the initiative included an Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS),” Caricom said.

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