Japan to Implement Preclearance Program, Speeding Up Wait Times
PHOTO: Tokyo, Japan (photo courtesy of Thinkstock).
Japanese officials are looking to implement an extensive preclearance system in the near future designed to drastically cut down on airport wait times.
The Nikkei Asian Review reported foreign travelers participating in the program would complete a majority of the screening process at their origin airport, including fingerprints and photos. Upon arriving in Japan, they would pass through a special lane where they would complete a more brief screening.
The Japanese government will look to introduce the program in South Korea and Taiwan before expanding to other countries.
Officials aim to have the program in place by next year.
The purpose of the proactive system is to reduce headaches and congestion at Japanese airports amid the destination's inbound tourism boom.
Japan welcomed nearly 20 million foreign travelers last year but is eyeing 40 million by 2020, when its capital Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics.
The government's goal is reduce the average wait time for foreign travelers to a maximum of 20 minutes, which is awfully ambitious considering travelers at Osaka's Kansai International Airport have waited up to an hour and a half, according to Nikkei.
Japan has already sped up the process for frequent business travelers by allowing them to use automated immigration gates and carts have recently been installed to snap travelers' photos while they wait in line.
As more and more travelers take to the skies, other destinations are likely to join Japan in searching for ways to cut down on the backup without jeopardizing security.
More by Patrick Clarke
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