(August 21, 2014) - Customs processing just got a lot easier for international passengers arriving at Tampa International Airport, CEO Joe Lopano announced Monday.
At a press conference held in the Airport’s Federal Inspection Station at Airside F, Lopano described how 10 new APC kiosks would help CBP process international guests’ passports more quickly and easily. He was joined at the conference by four members of Congress – Gus Bilirakis (R-Tarpon Springs), Kathy Castor (D-Tampa), David Jolly (R-St. Petersburg) and Dennis Ross (R-Lakeland) – along with John Choinski of Customs and Border Protection, all of whom praised TPA for its investment in attracting international tourism.
“Every international traveler that comes to this area spends on average $4,500," Rep. Castor said. "Those are dollars that help create jobs and help keep our travel and tourism area going."
The airport installed the kiosks on July 18 and has already seen a 20 to 30 percent reduction in Customs processing time. That time savings is expected to improve even more as the kiosks become more familiar.
“Customer service is a top priority for us and this is a big part of that,” Lopano said, noting TPA has seen a 42 percent increase in international traffic since 2010. “The immigration and customs experience is the first impression visitors have of our country and of Tampa Bay, and we want it to be positive.”
The kiosks allow U.S. and Canadian citizens, plus visitors from 38 Visa Waiver countries to use the machines.
Rep. Bilirakis, who chairs the House caucus on tourism and travel, said he is excited to know the airport is working to bring in more international travelers from visa waiver countries. He spoke about a bill he has coauthored that will reauthorize funding for Brand USA, a public-private partnership that helps promote U.S. destinations to international travelers.
Rep. Jolly said the bipartisan Tampa Bay delegation stands together in support of Tampa International Airport, particularly in its quest to grow and develop international service as the airport embarks on its $943 million expansion.
“We have long-term capital needs at this airport,” Rep. Jolly said. “We'll do what we can to make sure that the Tampa Airport remains the finest in the world."
Rep. Ross praised the airport’s longstanding efforts in ensuring the region’s airport is equipped with the latest and greatest in airport technology, calling the airport’s purchase of the machines “cutting edge.” “But then that’s nothing new for Tampa International Airport,” Rep. Ross said, “which 43 years ago created one of the most innovative and visionary airports the world has ever seen. Today they continue to lead that vision.