Senator Randall Mitchell Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts

After having their sector shut down for more than 15 months, artistes will now be allowed to travel abroad to work and return home without the indefinite waiting period for an exemption.

This according to Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell who was speaking at a Twitter Spaces meeting on Friday night.

The virtual meeting was hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Promoters’ Association (TTPA).

The association’s president, Jerome “Rome” Precilla said with local events shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, artistes want to be allowed to travel outside of the country to work.

Precilla thanked the Tourism Ministry for its vaccination drive for artistes and for travel exemptions that would allow them to leave and to return to T&T.

The criteria for an exemption to return has been in place since the closure of T&T’s border in March 2020.

Thousands of T&T nationals stranded abroad have had to apply for an exemption and wait, in most cases, months for that exemption to be granted.

But as Mitchell told the members of the virtual meeting, artistes will not have to worry about that wait.

“The thorny issue of exemptions to return was a matter that we had to deal with—we made proposals to the Cabinet, Cabinet accepted that the ministry of Tourism, working with the Ministry of National Security will treat with these exemptions so that artistes are able to go abroad work and comfortably rest assured that they are able to return, without having to wait for any indefinite period for an exemption etc,” Mitchell said.

He said when artistes travel abroad to work, they can state their return date on a form on the Tourism Ministry’s website. That ministry will then liaise with the Ministry of National Security to ensure the exemption is granted.

“So no longer would the artiste go abroad, work, not knowing how they are going to get home, not having to pull a string or talk to somebody to talk to somebody, the artistes are able to sit very comfortably, not have to pay for three, four weeks in hotel fees, but we will ensure that the artistes receive their exemptions in quick time and return to the country,” Mitchell said.

He said when the country starts to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, his ministry may need to put incentives in place to motivate creatives back into the sector.