The decision, which includes business, tourism and family visit purposes, will open up opportunities and advantages for EU citizens, as any existing visa requirement for EU citizens to travel to these countries will be eliminated.
The move started in November 2012, when the Commission proposed to add five Caribbean Island Nations (Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago), along with ten Pacific Island Nations (Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) and Timor-Leste to the list of third world countries and territories whose nationals are exempt from the visa obligation.
Following discussions with the European Parliament and the Council, it was agreed to add the UAE, Peru and Colombia to the original list. The visa waiver agreements look set to enter into force in 2015.
The news will open up the property market in the Caribbean, according to experts. Indeed, the area has seen soaring demand for real estate on TheMoveChannel.com in the early months of 2014, while Grenada is already enjoying a business boom, with investors attracted by a number of fiscal incentives, including exemption from custom duties on plant, equipment and raw materials and no restrictions on foreign ownership plus double taxation relief.
A Grenada Citizenship by Investment program also came out at the end of 2013. Unlike some similar residency and citizenship programs which are invitation only, this option is open to those investing in Grenadian government supported developments.
Ray Withers, CEO of investment specialist Property Frontiers, says that the hotel sector is set to enjoy a large share of the benefits: “We’ve been involved with Grenada hotel investments since 2005 and have sold more property here than any other agent. Hotel room investment is a perfect win-win investment in an emerging market such as Grenada, which is also experiencing a boom in tourism.
“Now the EU Parliament has voted in favour of visa-free travel, we can see a whole new level of investment opportunity opening up. Bacolet Bay Beach Resort is selling like hot cakes right now and we’re already investigating more easily accessible, high yielding options in this gorgeous Isle of Spice.”