JIS News

Having successfully reduced the airport processing time for persons flying out of the island, the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment is currently moving to do the same for travellers coming into the country.

Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says a special Committee, which spearheaded efforts to reduce the processing time, particularly at the Sangster International Airport, in Montego Bay, St. James, by more than 50 per cent, has been “mandated” to focus on incoming travellers.

This, he contends, could likely entail elimination of inbound immigration forms, particularly for Jamaicans.

Making his contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on July 2, the Minister said that the processing time at Sangster was reduced from 14 minutes to six minutes, based on time and motion studies conducted.

Noting that he has “long advocated” the need to eliminate inbound immigration forms for Jamaicans, Dr. McNeill advised that on travelling recently through Miami International Airport, in the United States, he observed that the authorities there have “totally eliminated” their immigration form, the I-94.

“This is the direction in which global travel is moving…capturing data electronically to expedite the travel experience. I have, therefore, indicated to the Committee to work with our Ministerial partners, to examine merging the customs and immigration forms into one. As the Americans have demonstrated, the technology is available for this to be done,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Dr. McNeill expressed satisfaction with the reduction in the airport processing time for persons flying out of the island.

The Minister noted that he previously received “numerous complaints” from travellers about long lines and difficulties encountered, especially at the Sangster International Airport, “where the vast majority of visitors to our island arrive.”

“I am pleased with the success we have had to date at both our international airports, especially at Sangster International. I want to thank the various partner Ministries, agencies, and organizations, especially the airlines; Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), and the Ministry of National Security, for their contribution to this process. While we are expanding our markets and facilitating ease of travel, we must also ensure that the airport experience is a positive and efficient one,” he said.

Dr. McNeill emphasized that Jamaica must not only keep up with global trends in travel and tourism, “but we must also seek to position ourselves on the cutting edge, as a destination.”

Contact: Douglas McIntosh

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