Immigration snafu

Michael Alan Hamlin

Posted on February 19, 2008

Building the Philippines’ country image, part II

Visitors flying into the Philippines have been complaining for years about long queues at immigration at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. They are just as long and slow-moving on the way out. Recently, the decibel level of the criticisms has risen significantly because the already long queues have gotten even longer.

There are a number of reasons why: 1) Poor management; 2) Increased arrivals and departures; and, 3) Inadequate IT infrastructure that just can’t keep up. Especially over in Terminal 2 there’s another issue as well: Immigration is stuffed into one corner that is completely inadequate for the thousands of passengers that pass through daily. Of course, the various fixers cutting in line with their charges in the arrival area also slows processing while increasing stress levels.

First — and last — impressions count, and improving this problem should be a priority for the administration, the Department of Trade & Industry, and the Department of Tourism. From their perspective, however, there are larger problems of greater strategic importance. But immigration processing is a relatively easy problem to solve, and solving it can have dramatic impact on visitors who are the Philippines’ most important promotional tool.

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