U.S. passports will be a requirement for air travel to the Caribbean starting on January 8, 2007, and Jamaica is responding with a program that balances the financial burden. From January 8, if Jamaica is the first country stamped in your shiny new passport and you stay at one of 12 participating properties, you can get a credit worth $97 for adults and $85 for children (the cost of applying for a passport) that’s good for things like hotel room upgrades, extra nights, spa services, and golf green fees.
It’s been a worry of countries impacted by the new requirements that tourism is going to suffer because travelers aren’t going to want to deal with the hassle and expense of getting passports. It’s possible that travel providers in other Caribbean countries will come out with similar deals in the coming months, and if a trip to such a destination is already in the cards, this isn’t a bad way to get your passport and spend the money on a vacation, too. If you’ll need a passport for travel in the early part of next year, apply now, since it takes about six weeks to get a passport, and waiting too long can mean paying a $60 expedite fee to get it faster.
Earlier this year, Contributing Editor Erica Silverstein covered the passport issue. Her article is full of good information and links to get you started.