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Senator Randall Mitchell Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts

The Government has met with the United States’ Embassy in Port-of-Spain, seeking to enhance the efforts of cultural workers who need visas to travel to the United States for revenue-earning performances after being negatively impacted by COVID-19 restrictions here.

This follows a meeting involving Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell and Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago Shante Moore and representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago Promoters’ Association on Wednesday.

A statement by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts said yesterday that it continues to advocate on behalf of artistes and promoters to smoothen the process of application for work visas and address any challenges related to their ability to travel abroad for work related to the promotion of T&T’s culture in the United States.

As it currently stands, cultural workers who represent Trinidad and Tobago at various events and festivals must apply for a special visa that gives them the ability to lawfully work temporarily within the United States.

One of the main challenges faced by the cultural sector is the closure of the United States Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which effectively ceased in-person interviews at the embassy.

The statement said, “Moore underscored his government’s support for Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural sector and gave the undertaking that issues raised by the Trinidad and Tobago Promoters’ Association through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts will be reviewed by the Consular Section of the United States Embassy.”

The statement also quoted Mitchell as saying, “This meeting was absolutely necessary as the ministry seeks to ameliorate any barriers to earning income abroad, as the sector seeks to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the United States government and the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs are key stakeholders in this process and all parties are on board with ensuring that the creative sector returns to some sense of normalcy.”

The ministry’s statement added that the meeting follows on the heels of a recently implemented programme that facilitates the ease of vaccinations and return travel exemptions for cultural workers, to assist members of the sector in accepting bookings and engagements internationally at festivals and events.

“Ministers Mitchell and Browne and the Chargé d’Affaires jointly expressed their commitment to the cultural sector and pledged to continue working together to ensure the sector’s survival,” the statement said.