A team from the United States Department of Homeland Security is to visit Jamaica during the last week of April to hold talks with government officials on the establishment of a US pre-clearance facility on the island.
According to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, the development resulted from talks he had with officials from that US Government agency while in Washington, DC, last week.
The measure, if approved, will allow for quicker and easier immigration clearance for American nationals in and out of the country.
"It is well known that the US government has not engaged any country in relation to pre-clearance since 9/11, and what it means is that there has to be a re-examination of that process. So I think it is a hopeful sign that we are talking and that they are prepared to come and visit," Bartlett said.
Already, tourism ministers in the Caribbean and oficials in the US are in discussions to create a pre-clearance hub for American visitors to the region.
Minister Bartlett said that if the pre-clearance facilities are established in Jamaica, they would significantly reduce the cost of travelling to the island from the US.
"It would give us access to every secondary airport and every major airport and allow for a swift and create the opportunity to build a hub for the region, as anticipated. This is an enormously powerful possibility for expansion in Jamaica's tourism, if we are able to achieve it," he added.
The tourism minister visited Washington on March 1 for a six-day visit, where he had a number of crucial meetings with key players in the global tourism industry and carried out duties related to his position as a member of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
He was accompanied by permanent secretary in the ministry, Jennifer Griffith.
Bartlett said that the talks were very fruitful and Jamaica and the tourism sector in particular will benefit in the long run.
Citing discussions held with the Inter-American Investment Corporation for US$10 million to assist small hotels and medium-sized businesses that supply the tourism sector, he said that should the funding materialise, it would represent "a major breakthrough for entrepreneurship, and for involving more people in the supply side of the economic matrix in Jamaica."