Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says efforts to improve efficiency at the nation’s airports are underway.
He explained that a five-prong approach will be taken, which include providing new computers and relevant software to help enhance the airports border management control systems, to improve the flow of traffic.
Making his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on July 3, Dr. McNeill said the move is being spearheaded by the Ministries of Tourism and Entertainment, and National Security.
He informed that the equipment has been secured by the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), and will assist in re-engineering outgoing immigration.
“The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has committed US$852,000 over a five- year period for the introduction of this system. Testing should start by September of this year and the new system should be in full operation by the beginning of the winter tourist season,” he pointed out.
The Minister said it is intended to redeploy officers formerly assigned to outgoing immigration, to increase the number of officers available for processing incoming visitors.
Dr. McNeill said a re-design of the airport layout and circulation pattern at Sangster International, to allow for greater efficiencies of passenger flows, will be undertaken.
“As we revamp our systems, our concerns will not stop at the matters affecting visitors to our island, but we will also seriously examine how we handle Jamaicans at our airports. Will they still require incoming immigration forms? This is a matter to be considered further,” he said, adding that immigration forms are to be redesigned to reduce time and effort.
He said the Government has long recognised the urgent need to improve the experience of visitors as they arrive at, and depart the island’s airports.
“Their experience from arrival to departure is the first and last impressions many tourists will have of our destination. As anyone who travels will attest, long lines at immigration and customs are unpleasant,” he said.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter