Government is to triple the number of immigration kiosks at the Grantley Adams International Airport as the pilot project has yielded limited success in speeding up the border entry process, Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson has told Barbados TODAY.
Declaring that the 16 kiosks in the arrivals hall are far from adequate, he said 32 more stations were on order.
“This is an ongoing process. The kiosks were bought in 2016 and were never used until last year August when we started the project. You could appreciate that 16 kiosks are not enough, and the airport has ordered 32 more and when those arrive, we would have sufficient. This process had teething problems in all of the countries where they are now functioning fully and we will get there as well.
“With only 16 kiosks and five planes on the ground from Britain and North America, especially on a Saturday and a Sunday, this is where we begin to see the problems because of the insufficiency of kiosks,” he said.
The Minister added that while the plan is to phase out the immigration entry/departure forms, the current digital platform does not allow for the input of all necessary information, limit the garnering of requisite information on non-Barbadian arrivals and important tourism data.
He said: “ Not all of the information that is on the front of the form is keyed into the kiosk. This is all right for Barbadians because as I have been telling Immigration for a long time, as a citizen you don’t need to know my address because the state has all that information already.”
The Home Affairs Minister expressed confidence that with the additional kiosks, coming legislation and plans to expand the digital platform to allow for the input of more data, the airport’s efficiency will be vastly improved.
“Right now, Barbadians can safely use these kiosks without filling out any E/D forms. The problem right now is that we need statistical information for our tourism, so we are in the process of getting that platform to continue after the removal of the E/D cards.
“The last challenge relates to legislation because the European Union has strict laws as it relates to privacy for their citizens. Therefore, we will be bringing to Parliament very shortly the Data Protection Bill.”
Hinkson urged Barbadians to be patient throughout the process, noting that Government is fully cognisant of the importance of getting this component of travel fully in place.
“It is a process and as the Prime Minister [Mia Mottley] has said as recently as Monday, this is not an ‘abracadabra’ type of thing. We will fix it, there are no miracles involved here and we ask for patience because we will get there,” he stressed.