CBP Attributes Reduced Holy Week Tourist Permit Volumes, Wait Times at South Texas Ports to Outreach Campaign
LAREDO, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Laredo Field Office advised that while tourist permits volumes at South Texas ports of entry were lower during the 2015 Holy Week period compared to the same time last year, volumes from the preceding two weeks show an overall increase in permits, reflecting the success of a campaign that encouraged tourists to obtain their permits early.
"This year’s tourist permit numbers show that the traveling public listened to our outreach campaign and obtained their tourist permits early which helped to reduce congestion at the tourist permit counters during the Holy Week period. Other facilitation measures such as opening additional lanes commensurate with traffic flow, urging SENTRI members to utilize designated SENTRI lanes and those with RFID-enabled documents to use the Ready Lanes also helped to reduce wait times,” said Director, Field Operations David P. Higgerson, Laredo Field Office.
During the Holy Week period in 2015, CBP officers at eight South Texas ports of entry extending from Brownsville to Del Rio processed 319,798 tourist permits, a reduction from the 334,211 processed during the same 10-day period in 2014. Laredo Port of Entry accounted for the largest percentage of tourist permits, with 35,476 permits issued during Holy Week 2015 compared to 46,630 issued during Holy Week 2014.
However, an analysis of tourist permit volumes in the two weeks preceding the Holy Week period, when a media outreach campaign encouraging travelers to obtain their permits early was launched, shows a 22 percent increase in tourist permits obtained. In the two weeks before Holy Week in 2014, CBP officers at South Texas ports processed 150,090 permits. In 2015, with the benefit of the outreach campaign, CBP officers at South Texas ports in the two weeks preceding Holy Week processed 183,232 permits. Laredo Port of Entry tourist permit volumes also reflected this trend. CBP officers processed 60,963 permits in the two weeks before Holy Week 2014 and 80,984 during the same period in 2015, a 33 percent increase.
Adding the pre-Holy Week and Holy Week periods together, CBP at South Texas ports processed 503,030 total permits in 2015, a four percent increase over the 484,301 processed during the same period in 2014. CBP officers at Laredo Port of Entry alone processed nearly a quarter of that total, 116,460 during that period in 2015 compared to 107,593 in the same period in 2014, an eight percent increase.
The distribution of tourist permit volumes over a larger time period helped greatly to reduce congestion and wait times during the Holy Week period.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.