Customs, immigration forms need review
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Sometime ago, I read in your paper where someone suggested improving Jamaican customs and immigration forms; in particular, improving the spacing and highlighting certain sections to make the form easier to read.
I agree, but there are also other issues about these forms worth considering. While I understand the need for collecting data and statistics to help the tourism sector, the primary purpose of these forms should not be for survey.
If they want to survey visitors, there are other ways to do this. For example, engaging visitors in departure lounges while they await flights or directly in hotels or even at attractions.
Besides the fine print, the form is too lengthy. And why should each person in a family travelling be required to fill out a separate form? This includes babies. What a waste of paper, when the form could've been designed to be family inclusive - one per family.
My guess is that there could be huge cost savings if the forms were geared towards families instead of one per person. In Montego Bay especially, there is a high volume of visitor arrivals and very long lines, delays at immigration and customs which can be counterproductive.
The forms should definitely be reviewed to facilitate more efficiency. Quite often, passengers also have to step outside the lines to be guided and to correct or complete forms. The additional 'tear off' section which visitors must complete and handed on arrival and handed in on departure also seem unnecessary with the level of technology now at our fingertips.
If basic visitor information is already in the system on arrival, why is a ticket stub required for exiting when departure can be easily confirmed with a simple passport scan of name, date of birth, etc.?
Most countries which receive large volume of travellers try to make these forms and the entire arrival/departure processes as simple and easy as possible.
We need to start looking at ways to improve the process and make it easier for visitors and residents alike.