by Renate Johns
While Greece and Italy are putting up barriers to visiting yachts by charging berthing taxes and other fees Bermuda is making it easier for visiting yachts by streamlining their visa process, allowing it happen while the yacht is still enroute. This comes after last year's lengthening of the maximum period of time that yachts can visit.
Bermuda - popular with cruising boats
The streamlined process will encourage more yachts to visit the fish-hook-shaped archipelago of 150 islands, already a frequent stopping place for yachts on their way to or from the Caribbean.
National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief told the House of Assembly that as a result of meeting with private sector partners, the Department of Border Control will now be able to process visa waiver applications while vessels are en route to the Island.
Bermuda St George's Harbour - photo by Kyle Hunter
The move is intended to address an issue in which some arriving visitors have been unable to secure the Bermuda entry visa.
'Those individuals are often unable to disembark and the rigid application of the policy defeats the economic aims of Bermuda as a premium yachting port,' Mr Perinchief said.
'We have created a specific e-mail address, supplied to agents, and could receive visa waiver requests while the ship passes the Statue of Liberty.'
The minister said this initiative, along with last year's extension of the maximum period of time visiting yachts and crews can stay in Bermuda (from 21 days to 90 and extensions possible), will allow the $10 million that visiting yachts put into the local economy in 2010 to increase in the years to come.