US Travel Association: Delays for Arriving International Passengers Costly
February 27th, 2014 | WMFE, Orlando- A lobby group for the transportation industry wants more customs and border protection officers at airports to cut waiting times for arriving visitors. Some of the biggest airports in the US - including Orlando International Airport- have signed a letter calling for action.
[Orlando International Airport has signed a letter calling for more customs and border protection officers at major US airports. Photo- Matthew Peddie, WMFE]
Congress has set aside funding for an additional 2,000 customs and border protection officers.
This week the US Travel Association wrote to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson asking for half of those officers to be allocated to major airports and seaports.
The association’s vice president of governmental relations, Patricia Rojas-Ungár, says it would help relieve the bottle neck for visitors.
“So that you have a more reasonable time frame for people who enter the country," says Rojas-Ungár.
"You know, having people wait after getting off a seven hour flight, another two hours, is not the kind of welcome we need to provide to our international visitors.”
Rojas-Ungár says in 2012 visitors to Miami International Airport had to wait up to 5 hours to get through customs.
Her association estimates the US is losing billions of dollars by not processing arriving passengers quickly.
“We calculated the time people were standing in line, we averaged it out and we calculated what they could be spending their money on," says Rojas-Ungár.
"So while they’re standing in line, clearly they’re not going to shows, they’re not going to restaurants. So there’s a value, a cost associated with them standing in line.”
Other airports signing on to the letter include Tampa and Orlando.
Orlando has started self-service customs kiosks to cut the wait time for arrivals.