US ramps up biometric airport passport control facilities
16 February 2015 11:58 GMT

The aim is to create “a best-in-class international arrivals experience

Washington has announced plans to boost the number of biometrics-backed, automated passport control kiosks at busy airports as part of several measures to make arriving at the country’s airports a better experience.

A report released by the Department of Commerce, on Friday stated that 340 more APCs will be installed and that paper customs systems will be replaced by new technology that allows passport and customs information to be entered on mobile devices.

The aim is to create “a best-in-class international arrivals experience, as compared to our global competitors”, wrote the report by secretary of the Department of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, and secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson.

US President Barack Obama told the secretaries to develop an improved international arrivals experience as a follow up to his 2012 announcement of the 100 million visitor goal.

Pritzker wrote that a rise in international arrivals – from 70 million in 2013 to an estimated 74 million in 2014 – was good but that the US’s competitors were also working hard on visitor experience.

“This is good news, but every other international destination is competing fiercely with us for international visitors and the jobs they support,” Pritzker and Johnson wrote in a letter accompanying the report. “First impressions matter, and when overseas travelers arrive at our airports, it is important that they have a positive experience. The safety and security of this country will always come first, but we can and must also ensure that the travel experience continues to be welcoming, friendly, and efficient.”

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