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THE BARBADOS HOTEL AND TOURISM ASSOCIATION has received “numerous complaints” about the length of time it is taking tourists to pass through Customs at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA).
Chief executive officer Sue Springer said there were reports of long lines and long delays at Customs – not so much Immigration – with people taking upward of two hours to leave the airport after landing.
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has been apprised of the situation, while National Union of Public Workers president Akanni McDowall cautioned that proper procedures should not be sacrificed for speed.
Online readers also shared their thoughts.
Michael Turton: Same old processes of a few customs officers trying to check the luggage of hundreds of arriving passengers. They need to visit other international airports and adopt best practices. Too many old people with ancient ways of thinking are in critical positions. You need constant change to be competitive.
Judy Stanford: We had two visitors arrive on the 6th and it took two hours for them to get through. They said, at times, they felt unsafe as everyone was pushing, especially the red caps who were trying to get ahead of those in the “line”. As first-time visitors, it was not a good start to the Barbados we had been bragging to them about for years.
Anne Marie Keane: We went through the entire hellish process recently. There are not enough people working in Immigration or Customs. It took over three hours standing on line in the heat. This is unacceptable especially after a long flight to begin with. Not a positive welcoming start to one’s vacation. It must be fixed.
Anson Sobers: Sue, I am glad this was raised but sadly it’s not only visitors, it’s anyone coming into the island whether citizen, resident or visitor except for if you are a diplomat. Barbados has one of the worst systems and it has gotten worse in recent years. You have to wait at Immigration long, then it’s the baggage wait and then it’s the wait at Customs, whether or not you have something to declare. This process needs to be overhauled through efforts at GAIA and Customs and Immigration.
Tricia Mondore: Oh wow, imagine that, I guess none of these visitors are US residents going through Miami or JFK, where the service sometimes is atrocious and they usually have the gall to complain.
Mechell Springer: In every country there must be checks and balances. If we want our borders to be safe, procedures must be followed to achieve this. Please recognise that time is necessary for those procedures to be followed. This is a worldwide phenomenon; just allow persons to do the jobs they are trained and paid to do.
Elsworth Neale: Hmmm, how do you equate that with what I see in JFK? Visitors had to wait until all the citizens and permanent residents got checked by immigration before we were checked.
Sheena Sunshine: Yes, we welcome the visitors, but guys, be fair. When you go to Miami and JFK airport, you have to stay in long lines and the security is way tougher than here. So if our Customs and Immigration staff are doing their jobs, please allow them to. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
• Sherrylyn Toppin is THE NATION’s Online Editor.