Arrival protocols at airport being streamlined to prevent delays

(PNC file photo)

With arrivals on the upswing and the vaccine tourism program officially launched, officials are working hard to streamline the arrival protocols at the airport to prevent delays.

Nico Fujikawa, the Guam Visitors Bureau’s head of research, said one of the problems they’re encountering is on the COVID-19 testing side.

“I think the problem is on the testing side because there are so many iterations of the COVID-19 tests and there are so many different permutations … like people can upload this form or not this form. They’re trying to make sure that the backend system is collecting everything properly,” Fujikawa told members of the Recovery Task Force during its meeting Wednesday.

One bit of good news, Fujikawa reported, is that the recently launched Electronic Declaration Form (EDF) has been processing passengers since June 15 and the system has been working very smoothly.

“We’ve had first-hand accounts saying that the processing time has been cut to about a minute to two minutes per passenger because the information is already uploaded in advance,” he said.

With regard to the recently announced secondary vaccination verification QR codes, Fujikawa said there have been some difficulties.

He said there’s no problem with the Guam system which generates the QR code instantaneously. However, some systems based on the Safe Travels system out of Hawaii take some time before emailing the codes.

“So we’re trying to work around little issues like that before they can go live. But they have asked me to help them move it across a lot faster. So I am trying to make sure that we can offer them some of the experiences we’ve had with EDM,” Fujikawa said.

He added: “But I think, for the most part, the system is about 90% done, and these are the final tweaks for them to start testing.”

For the airport’s part, GIAA deputy director Ricky Hernandez said they’re very concerned about the throughput and the timeline it takes for people to get off the plane and out to the door.

“We’ve been supporting Public Health as it relates to the facilities and trying to make it as comfortable and as smooth as possible. As you’re aware, when the protocols changed on May 15, we adjusted the way the arrivals process worked with Public Health and it’s been a lot smoother,” Hernandez said.

He added: “We’ve kind of made use of the baggage claim area a little bit better. But still, I think with the digital process, if that’s rolled out, that will increase the efficiency in terms of getting people out of the Public Health portion of the arrivals process and into the Customs process.”