The government is taking steps toward streamlining the current visitor experience at the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport.
This is according to Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley who told reporters at a press conference recently that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is expected to be signed soon with the Caribbean Community on an air passenger information system.
“This will help us tremendously because even before someone gets on a plane, you’ll receive the information here in the Virgin Islands
, which will allow us to be able to scrutinise the persons on the list, do our due diligence, so that when they get here, it’s, it’s not a very long process for them to be processed because we would’ve had the information prior to their arrival,” the Premier said.
Premier Wheatley expressed that the move corresponds with the transformation that has been taking place within the government as it pertains to border management and made reference to a digital border management system that is currently in place at the airport.
In the meantime, Managing Director at the BVI Airports Authority, Kurt Menal, explained that the first point of entry for visitors is usually at the airport, and currently the entity is restricted by its infrastructure.
“So there’s a group working together — Customs, Immigration, Tourism, and the Airports Authority to streamline that experience,” Menal said.
He added: “What you will see come February, March is our Immigration, Customs will be doing away with the ED cards, so that would make it more seamless.”
Regarding the restrictions affecting the Customs and Immigration spaces at the airport presently, Menal noted that there are plans to gradually expand.
”So what you’ll see is a continuous spatial planning exercise going on where the look of Customs and Immigration, in terms of the physical layout, will change. So the passenger would flow through more seamlessly, [and] they’d have more space. You’d have a different angle or different type of baggage belt, different carousel,” Menal explained.