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Facial recognition tech coming to Jamaica's airports, says tourism minister as island moves towards smart destination

Published:Sunday | December 15, 2019 | 12:59 PM
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett (3rd L) cuts the ribbon to officially commission 15 additional automated kiosks at the Sangster International Airport yesterday. Joining in the moment (l-r) are Elizabeth Fox, regional director for tourism UK/N Europe, Jamaica Tourist Board; Andrew Wynter, CEO of PICA; Dr Carey Wallace, executive director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF); Robin Russell, president of the Montego Bay chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association; Donovan White, director of Tourism; Althea Allen-Keene, operations manager Immigration, Sangster International Airport and Angella Bennett, regional director of tourism for Canada.

The addition of 15 automated immigration kiosks at the Sangster International Airport (SIA) in Montego Bay, St James will take Jamaica closer to becoming a smart destination, says Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.

The addition of the kiosks in time for the start of the winter tourist season will facilitate a more seamless experience for the volumes of visitors arriving, Bartlett said as he commissioned the new kiosks into operation yesterday.

Jamaica is expected to welcome some 2.68 million stopover arrivals by year end. This is an eight per cent increase over last year.

Smart tourism refers to the application of information and communication technology, such similar to the smart cities, for developing innovative tools and approaches to improve tourism.

Speaking at the official ribbon cutting of the new kiosks at the airport, Bartlett said: “The future of tourism is predicated on technology and this move today which is a continuation of the development of a smarter tourism experience and particularly, smarter airport arrangements to facilitate seamlessness in visitor entry experience in our destination.”

With these new kiosks passengers place their immigration cards inside the machine and once the machine gives them a green light they are allowed to go straight to customs and clear their luggage.

“This use of technology to create a smarter entry into the destination is also going to position Jamaica as the leading destination in the Caribbean in so far as smart tourism is concerned. We are looking forward to not only this automated immigration facility but also the E-gates that are coming, the elimination of paper base and more digital arrangements for immigration.

The final stage will be facial recognition which will make Jamaica the most technologically savvy destination as it relates to point of entry,” added the tourism minister.

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