The story in Monday’s newspaper on airlines servicing St. Maarten soon being required to provide electronic traveller data beforehand was interesting. About 90 countries have reportedly already joined the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) originally established by the United States Customs and Border Control.
For security reasons, most European Union (EU) member states also require details on incoming passengers. Justice Minister Anna Richardson said this is necessary to improve border surveillance and there is the cooperation with the French side at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) to consider.
Added benefits mentioned were enhanced carrier security in some instances and ensuring visitors carry valid official documents. According to her, it could even reduce the waiting time for boarding or to collect baggage.
Few would argue against such a move, especially with today’s drug-trafficking and other global civil aviation threats, including international terrorism. Important is for the introduction to be communicated in a comprehensive and timely manner that guarantees a smooth process.
After all, travel is hardly easy these days with having to fill out health declarations online and upload COVID-19 test results or proof of vaccination, etc. Carriers need to be well-informed in a timely manner so they can make the change as hassle-free for their customers as possible.
Since APIS regards an American data exchange network and that’s where most flights to the island come from, there ought to be no big problems. However, great care should still be taken so potential guests are not discouraged.
In the same Monday edition, former Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmilla de Weever said the destination had been outperforming 18 Caribbean others in terms of stayover arrivals and all must be done to help continue that trend.