The installation of additional kiosks at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) will not only decrease the waiting time for persons arriving in Barbados, but will also free up immigration officers to do other important duties.
That is according to Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson, who made the comments during debate on the Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2019, this morning in Parliament.
In introducing the bill, Hinkson said while there were currently 17 kiosks at the GAIA, government was looking to install more to make life easier for visitors and locals alike on their arrival in Barbados.
He said the amendment would formalize the use of the kiosks and provide for the replacement of ED (Embarkation/Disembarkation) forms, which all persons travelling to Barbados were required to complete. According to him, the forms were outdated and required persons to provide unnecessary information. He also described the stamping of passports as “redundant and repetitive”.
The minister explained that the kiosks would scan the passport, take a photo and prompt the passenger to respond honestly to a series of questions, all using biometrics.
“The practical aspect is that 17 kiosks were purchased by the previous administration, we came and found them, 16 are functional at the present time and it is our intention as soon as financial resources allow, to get more kiosks, because with our growing tourism market and arrivals and of course increased travel we anticipate that the17 that are there would not be adequate enough in the long term,” Hinkson said.
“This whole process ties into the whole context where we are making life easier for all those, whether local citizens or tourists who arrive in Barbados.”
Hinkson said all persons over the age of 19 would be allowed to use the kiosks which he expected would greatly reduce the current waiting times.
“For a tourist, the point of contact in Barbados at the airport is their first point of contact and we all know first impressions count a lot. The typical tourist wants to get off the flight, get out the airport, go on the beach, go and drink some Bajan rum, you want to start enjoying your vacation. You don’t want to be held up at an airport more than is necessary,” he said.
However, Hinkson gave his assurance that security would not be compromised.