New US Passport Laws Not a Problem for Caribbean Timeshare Companies
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
The tourism and timeshare industries in the Caribbean have been pleased with the response to new US passport laws.
One of our past blog topics this year dealt with the change in US Passport laws that requires US citizens, along with people arriving in the US from Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico, to present a passport in order to enter the US when arriving by air. The passport law revisions, implemented by the US Department of State and Homeland Security, specifically changed the old laws by requiring that US travelers returning from the Caribbean, now present a passport. The only exception to this rule is travel to and from Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands (which includes American Samoa, Swains Island, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).
People involved in the tourist industry in the Caribbean, including hoteliers and Caribbean timeshare resorts, were concerned that the new laws would have a detrimental effect on travel. For so many years, the Caribbean has been a favorite beachside vacation destination where US travelers could enjoy last minute holidays and timeshare vacations without needing a passport. Would the US government be able to meet the surge of passport applications that would inevitably occur as the deadline for the new laws approached? Would vacationers who don’t already have a passport choose another beach vacation destination, like Miami timeshares, rather than obtain a passport?
According to an article recently released by The Daily Herald News, published in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles the new passport laws have had a negligible impact on tourism, especially in the timeshare vacation sector.
St. Maarten-Saint Martin is a Caribbean Island, roughly 150 miles east of Puerto Rico. Divided in nationality, half Dutch and half French, it is the smallest island in the world with ownership claimed by two nations. The northern half of the island is Saint Martin, and is a dependency of France, while the southern half of St. Maarten is part of the Netherlands Antilles.
The Caribbean Hotel Association and Caribbean Tourism Organisation sponsored a media campaign based on the slogan, “Life needs the Caribbean but you need a passport,” in order to increase public awareness of the changing passport laws. The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association even offered “100 St. Maarten Bucks” or the equivalent of 100 US dollars in goods and services on the island for visitors who arrived with a new or renewed passport.
According to The Daily Herald News, Jules James, president of the St. Maarten Timeshare Association, said that timeshare resorts gave the clearest indication that the new passport law did not stop people from traveling to the island. James said, “We are at 87 percent occupancy now and numbers have been high all through the winter.”
James explained that timeshare owners got their passports because they were protecting their interval timeshare. “The timeshare sector safeguards itself.”
Timeshare vacation opportunities are excellent throughout the Caribbean. To learn more about timeshare resales in St. Maarten, click here. You can also find out more about Caribbean timeshare rentals by visiting the Sell My Timeshare NOW website.