The Marianas Visitors Authority is concerned on the reported delays in the processing of some tourists through the immigration booths at the Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport, especially during peak hours of plane arrivals.
MVA managing director Perry Tenorio raised to the board the need to have a dialogue with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to address the issue.
“I think we need to have a meeting with them,” Tenorio said.
“We’re concerned. Our Korean partners are just concerned on the delay of them getting processed,” he added.
The board mentioned that CBP was willing to add more booths but there is a lack of space at the airport, however, Tenorio said that of about 12 booths currently in the airport, only seven agents are able to man them at any given time.
Because of this, should a flight from China arrive first, it would take about three hours to process a flight coming in from South Korea.
The board said CBP should be able to man all counters.
Asked if there is a way for flights not to get congested during peak hours, Tenorio said they can’t dictate time of arrivals on airlines.
“That’s what CBP would like, where we’re not stacking [the flights with] each other but the reality is we can’t control that,” Tenorio said.
Tenorio said they are trying to get information on the matter but there was reluctance from CBP due to “security reasons” according to Tenorio.
“They need to process this people faster,” Tenorio said.
Tenorio noted that the issue is having an impact on the CNMI’s tourism.
“It is having an impact on our future growth. Not to mention we will have hotels coming online soon so it’s going to be more congested up there,” Tenorio said.
In an interview, Tenorio said it would only be logical for them to ask to have the booths all manned even just during peak hours.
“It’s not going to be peak all the time because some of our flights are not daily. At least during those periods where we have the planes stacked, coming in very close to each other, I would think it would make logical sense to be a little heavy on having personnel there,” Tenorio said.