Passengers using the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados today had their first taste of hassle-free travel as the Caribbean prepares to welcome guests to the Cricket World Cup 2007 tournament.

Just around 7:30 a.m. passengers travelling on a LIAT flight to St Lucia and Martinique from Barbados were the first to benefit from the new arrangements.

In an interview with personnel from the Media Centre at Warren’s, St Michael , Barbados, LIAT’s Sales and Services Manager, Oliver Haywood, welcomed the new arrangements and said so far the process went ahead without any hitches. “The first process that was observed and adhered to was the fact that the ticket taxes were on the tickets, eliminating the practice of passengers looking for departure tax at the counters. All we had to do was to ensure that their immigration cards were already completed. There were no money transactions at the counter. This assisted the processing of passengers," the LIAT official explained.

Haywood pointed out that once the passenger arrived at the Immigration Department Desk, they were then provided with a wrist band for movement within the Single Domestic Space. He noted that the wrist bands afforded the passengers travelling in the Caribbean hassle-free travel. “The concept is that when you arrive in St Vincent, St Lucia or Trinidad and Tobago you would go to an area designated for the domestic space where you would not have to produce your passport or any documents. You will be identified by the wrist band."

It has been suggested that passengers should still travel with their passports because a random check could be carried out, Haywood further explained.

He pointed out that another innovation today was the introduction of the Advance Passenger Information (API) which was expected to be forwarded to the destination of the airline 15 minutes after take-off.

According to Haywood, security personnel were expected to vet the passengers and where necessary take appropriate action.

Meanwhile, acting Assistant Chief Immigration Officer, Rodney Farrell, also acknowledged that with the introduction of the new process there was a quicker flow of passengers through the airport. Speaking to personnel from the Media Centre the senior government official said: “So far this morning operations have moved quite smoothly. As you may be aware the first day of any new operation there would be one or two hiccups, but so far I would say that things have run very smoothly.”

Outlining the new process, Farrell gave passengers the assurance that once the immigration cards were filled out correctly and the wrists bands were in place, those passengers would be allowed entry as quickly as possible. He stressed that no entries would be made on the passport and no queries would be made on the length of their stay.

In an interview with the Media Centre, a CARICOM official pointed out that in the Single Domestic Space, passport vetting will be carried out if there were challenging issues such as power cuts, telecommunications problems or technical glitches. Stressing that security was uppermost in the minds of CARICOM officials, the official said the Region was not prepared to compromise the security of nationals and visitors alike.

“It is anticipated that that within the first three weeks of the establishment of the Single Domestic Space, any technical challenges will be met in time for the influx of fans, teams, media personnel, and sponsors for the 3rd largest global sporting event,” the official said.

Contact: Ms. Rose Blenman

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