Border control officers across the OECS are now better equipped to facilitate regional travel, in conformance with international standards.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has just concluded two high level meetings for travel industry personnel from the OECS and the wider Caribbean. The first was an ICAO Traveler Identification Program (TRIP) Regional Symposium, followed by an ICAO Workshop on Air Travel Border Control Management in the Caribbean region. The ICAO meetings were held in Antigua from late January to early February.
The OECS Commission provided partial support for seven border control officers from Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to attend the ICAO workshop. This was done under the OECS 10th EDF Economic Integration and Trade of the OECS Region Project. The workshop, which was designed to address travel facilitation issues and border control priorities specific to the Caribbean region, attracted close to 50 participants.
Addressing the Workshop, OECS Director General, Dr. Didacus Jules, spoke of the success of the travel arrangements for Cricket World Cup 2007 which epitomized the concept of free movement which he referred to as “one of the greatest moments of regional integration in the Caribbean.” The Director General described the region at that time as “a true borderless region in which persons had a right to move freely.”
Dr. Jules urged workshop participants to “balance the promise of regional integration with the perils of freedom of movement” in light of threats such as terrorism. He also urged persons to “look beyond the technical elements and give due consideration to the broad vision, and what we are seeking to achieve as a region.”
The ICAO TRIP Strategy seeks to promote a global approach to traveler identification management, as well as provide direction for action by ICAO States and the many international and regional industry partners, in traveler identification management. It includes five key elements: Document Issuance and Control; Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs); Interoperable Applications; Inspection Systems and Tools; and Evidence of Identity.
The OECS Commission’s Tourism Specialist, Dr. Lorraine Nicholas, delivered a presentation on the OECS Single Domestic Space at the TRIP Symposium.
The OECS Commission collaborated closely with the ICAO and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in organizing the ICAO Mmetings, which were attended by 163 participants representing 37 countries.
The next ICAO TRIP regional workshop will be held in Jamaica in November 2017.