Efforts to Improve Reception of Foreign Visitors at U.S. Airports

T-NSIAD-91-42: Published: Jul 10, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 10, 1991.

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GAO discussed the reception of foreign visitors at U.S. airports, focusing on federal agencies' implementation of recommendations for improving facilities and services for foreign air arrivals. GAO noted that: (1) the Department of Commerce's U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration reported that foreign visitors to the United States generated revenues of $51.1 billion in 1990; (2) foreign travelers to the U.S. generated $5.5 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues and directly supported an estimated 850,000 U.S. jobs; (3) Commerce is working with two interagency groups to speed the clearance process for arriving international air passengers; (4) the U.S. Customs Service could reinstate the U.S. citizens bypass system if international airlines would expand their participation in the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS); (5) Commerce stated that it will expand the Gateway Receptionist Program if it receives additional appropriations; and (6) the National Transportation Facilitation Committee (NTFC) is designing a comprehensive model plan for providing high-quality airport services and facilities for foreign visitors. GAO believes that: (1) there is little incentive for airlines to participate in APIS to speed the federal inspection process if the Immigration and Naturalization Service continues to use the Accelerated Citizen Examination; and (2) NTFC is the appropriate body for developing model guidelines and trying to resolve foreign visitor facilitation problems.

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