This week – May 1-7, 2016 – is National Travel and Tourism Week. As we gear up for the busy summer travel season, I’d like to share the many different ways that CBP makes lawful travel easier and more secure.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, international travelers spent $133 billion in the United States last year, and one out of every nine U.S. jobs depends on the travel and tourism industry.
CBP plays a vital role in this important economic sector. More than 112.5 million international travelers landed at U.S. airports during Fiscal Year 2015 and this number is projected to grow at an annual rate of 4 percent. Land border arrivals and sea port entries are up, too.
We want to make sure the welcome you receive is as safe and efficient as possible, and we’re making real progress.
CBP continues to expand Global Entry, its trusted traveler program in the air environment. Global Entry is available at 60 airports at both domestic and preclearance locations, and more than 4.3 million travelers have GE benefits. In fact, GE kiosks have been used more than 22 million times – a savings of more than 360,000 inspectional officer hours.
We’re also expanding Automated Passport Control (APC). There are now more than 1,300 APC kiosks deployed at 41 locations. Every day, more than 150,000 travelers use these kiosks, and their average inspection time at an APC podium with a CBP officer lasts just approximately 30 seconds.
Our newest innovation is our Mobile Passport Control app. MPC lets travelers use a free smartphone application to answer arrival questions, submit passport information and upload a photograph prior to inspection. MPC is now available at 10 U.S. airports and averages more than 6,000 uses per week, and we are on track to make MPC available at the top 20 U.S. airports by the end of this year.
CBP also works together with our stakeholders through public-private partnership programs authorized by Congress. These programs help us provide services beyond what would otherwise be possible, and they’ve helped channel millions of dollars in planned public and private sector investments towards U.S. ports of entry.
But our innovations aren’t just limited to our U.S. port operations. Through our Preclearance program, CBP provides immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections of U.S.-bound international air passengers prior to their departure at foreign airports at 15 locations in six foreign countries. Currently, more than 600 CBP officers and agriculture specialists preclear more than 17.5 million U.S.-bound passengers per year, enabling us to remain proactive and stay ahead of international security threats.
Finally, I encourage all travelers to “travel smart” by reviewing CBP’s travel tips. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or returning from a vacation or business trip, we want your arrival to be as smooth and secure as possible, whether we are saying “Welcome” or “Welcome back.”