I read the Jamaica Observer report which said that improvements at both international airports in Jamaica are coming. This is long overdue, and very welcome. I applaud Minister Wykeham McNeill for the efforts now being made to improve and simplify processes for passengers at both airports. I understand outgoing immigration procedures will cease by the end of 2012. This is also a welcome change, as there are numerous security checkpoints along the way to render this unnecessary. Most countries don't have outgoing immigration either.
Visitors must hand in the stub when leaving the island and I understand if it's lost, you must complete a new immigration form. The long wait and lengthy, very detailed immigration forms, which take forever to fill out, are really unnecessary. I recall one visit in particular, during the busy Christmas season when we had to wait in line for several hours just to see an immigration officer. We hope the minister will also address services during these traditional peak periods as well.
Often, at least at the Norman Manley airport, the section for visitors is just not opened, and everyone must join a single line; either way it doesn't even matter if the systems and processes are efficient. On another visit, while waiting in line I had my form checked and was told I had to do it over, simply because it was written in purple ink (and not black ink). The customer service rep said, "They're very 'funny' down here, you will reach the immigration officer and they will request that you do it over."
For a country which thrives on tourism and foreign exchange inflows, the airports need to be more accommodating and welcoming with more efficient processes in place, and simple things do matter. It is actually a deterrent (at least for me), when considering a trip to the island. We hope these enhanced measures will be implemented sooner rather than later.