A travel agent in Trinidad and Tobago has written Smugglers Beach Resort complaining about Saint Lucia’s travel restrictions, which saw passengers being turned away at the airport.
Ainsley Boodoosingh of Unlimited Travel and Tours (Trinidad) said on Christmas Eve 2014, two Trinidadian families were refused boarding at the Piarco International Airport, because the parties did not have the minimum three months validity from date of travel in their passports.
The agent alleged that “Saint Lucia is the only” Caribbean / Caricom Island with this requirement – all the other Islands accept Trinidadians and Tobagonians – once their passport is valid at point of entry.”
Boodoosingh said “this additional unnecessary burden” to sell Saint Lucia is negatively impacting the staff at Unlimited Travel and Tours, who now prefers to sell other Caribbean destinations with less passport restrictions and hassle free.
The agent further stated that in the “high-tech age of travel” most travel agencies seldom see passengers, much less their passports. “Passengers contact us electronically and we respond the same way and they then head to the airport – short and simple,” the agent said.
“If there is a problem with one destination – passengers will move to the next and may never return to any destination that continues to pose some type of travel restriction,” Boodoosingh told Smugglers Beach Resort in the letter.
Unlimited Travel and Tours said Saint Lucia – can operate on the same playing field as their Caricom neighbours and is calling on the Saint Lucian government to revise its travel policy, specifically as it relates to those restrictions.
The agent has also asked Smugglers Beach Resort to advocate for them, so that the policy is changed. The passengers were expected to stay in Saint Lucia at Smugglers Beach Resort, during the Christmas holidays last year.
During a press conference held early this year to announce Saint Lucia’s tourism performance in 2014, government had announced plans to tap into the regional tourism market, in order to boast tourist arrivals here.