KINGSTON, Jamaica: New strategies are been put in place to improve the flow of visitors and locals through the country’s international airports, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has said.
“We believe it is critical that we address the lingering issues in order to improve the airport experience and make the exit and entry of persons to the island seamless. This is in keeping with our plans to improve the flow of persons through immigration and our airports in general.
“I am working, along with my colleague, Minister of National Security, Mr. Peter Bunting, under whose portfolio immigration falls, to determine how we can improve on the current situation.
“Ultimately, we would like to have a smoother, hassle-free, and more customer-friendly process. We believe we will have to examine our laws in order to improve the system, as many of them don’t speak to the current technological trends.”
McNeill said outgoing immigration traffic will also have to be addressed.
“It is … evident that we will have to re-engineer how we handle outgoing immigration to ensure that we make the process more efficient while ensuring that security is not compromised. It is likely that we will have to boost our staff complement as well, so we are currently examining the options available to us at this time.”
McNeill and Bunting toured the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay recently, accompanied by State Minister, Damion Crawford, and senior officials from the ministries of Tourism and Entertainment and National Security on what he termed a fact-finding mission “which allowed us to see first-hand the problems that need to be tackled.
“It was important for us to visit the airport early because it is the first and last experience for our visitors and there have been concerns which we have to address. We intend to establish a special committee which will examine all the issues that need to be dealt with in order to ensure that the passage of persons through the airports is smooth and that the time spent clearing immigration is reduced.”
McNeill added that “the work of this committee will be informed by the report recently submitted by the Tourism Competitiveness Task Force which was chaired by Mr. Josef Forstmayr. They examined issues affecting the competitiveness of tourism in Jamaica, particularly relating to welcome at the airports, regional and international visa requirements, as well as aviation policy issues and taxation.
“We intend to examine their recommendations and build on that foundation moving forward.”