Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the issues and conditions affecting foreign visitors' entry into 10 U.S. international gateway airports and specific conditions at the airports, focusing on: (1) the federal inspection process; (2) airport services and facilities; and (3) visitor facilitation improvement projects.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Commerce||1. The Secretary of Commerce should consider adopting proposals, in conjunction with the Secretaries of the Treasury, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and the Interior, and the U.S. Attorney General, aimed at increasing the speed and ease of federal inspection clearance process, such as: (1) using the U.S. citizens bypass system at all airports to ease the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) work load; and (2) seeking the removal of user fee exemptions to provide more funds to INS and the Customs Service.|
|Department of Commerce||2. The Secretary of Commerce should direct the head of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration (USTTA) to consider expanding its Gateway Receptionist Program, which benefits: (1) foreign tourists who speak little or no English; (2) federal inspectors; and (3) college students who are unable to make good use of their foreign language skills. Funds necessary to expand the program could be provided on a matching basis by USTTA and participating airport authorities, as is now done at most participating airports.|
|Department of Transportation||3. To encourage high quality foreign visitor services and facilities at all U.S. international airports, the Secretary of Transportation should request that the National Transportation Facilitation Committee design a model plan for providing high quality airport services and facilities for foreign visitors, incorporating some of the more innovative projects under way at various airports, and that the plan be completed within 12 months.|