June 3, 2005 – Caribbean hoteliers want the United States to postpone new regulations that require U.S. citizens to show passports when re-entering the country from the Caribbean, officials said Thursday.
Starting Jan. 1, Americans used to traveling to the islands with a driver's license or birth certificate will need passports, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced last month. Members of the Puerto Rico-based Caribbean Hotel Association want the date changed to Jan. 1, 2008, said association president Berthia Parle.
More than $2.5 billion dollars and 188,000 jobs could be at risk because passport requirements might dissuade Americans who are used to traveling to the Caribbean spontaneously, said Delphine Rosario, an association spokeswoman.
Though they account for 53 percent of the Caribbean's visitors, only about 60 million Americans have passports.
Almost 22 million people visit the Caribbean annually, spending more than $20.5 billion, according to a study by the World Travel and Tourism Council, Parle said Friday at the Caribbean Tourism Organization Board of Directors meeting in New York.
Parle said tourists need more time to learn about the new regulations and prepare.
"Our position advocates an extension of time for the Caribbean to the same introductory date as Mexico and Canada, January 1, 2008, to allow the region's tourism to prepare better," Parle said.
The regulations do not effect travel in the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico.
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