CBP Preclearance Program May Boost Tourism
Negotiations with nine countries for preclearance at 10 airports are in the works by the United States Customs and Border Protection.
Among the airports is Japan’s Narita International Airport.
The announcement to expand the preclearance program to Narita International Airport follows the efforts of Senator Mazie Hirono, who along with additional stakeholders, including Senator Brian Schatz, advocated for expanding the program to Japan.
“The fact that that the United States will go forward in working to expand preclearance to Japan’s Narita International Airport is a good news for Hawai’i’s tourism industry, the economies of our state and nation, and visitors from Japan who are eager to visit Hawai’i,” said Senator Hirono. “Japan is one of our closest allies and our countries have so much to offer one another. Travel between our two nations is just one way we can continue to strengthen our relationship. Tourism is our state’s number one industry and anything we can do to promote travel to Hawai’i is a step toward strengthening our economy and creating jobs.”
Passengers will be allowed to complete immigration, customs, and agriculture inspection prior to their departure through the planned preclearance program implementation. The rule changes will allow passengers the opportunity to avoid processing or delays at domestic airports.
“We’ve been pushing for preclearance for two years, and it has gone from pie in the sky to reality,” said Senator Schatz. “This is the first step towards making it a lot easier for Japanese visitors to come to Hawai‘i. Although work remains to be done, this also has enormous implications in terms of our efforts in establishing direct flights from Japan to Kona. In the last Congress as Chairman of the Tourism Subcommittee, this was my top tourism priority, and I’m happy that we’ve made progress towards this goal.”
“This is a significant step forward for Hawai’i’s tourism industry, which is the single largest component of the state’s economy. Japan is Hawai’i’s biggest international market, accounting for about 18 percent of international travelers to Hawai’i, which brings in about $1.5 billion a year to the state’s economy,” said Governor David Ige.
Foreign airports were invited by the CBP to submit letters of interests in hosting U.S. preclearance operations. According to CBP, 25 locations responded from 15 countries.
“I would like to thank Hawai‘i’s congressional delegation and the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority for their work to expand preclearance to Japan’s Narita International Airport. Preclearance has been a top priority for my administration and I’m happy to see that it is moving forward. It would provide our valued Japanese visitors with a more pleasant arrival experience by alleviating congestion at the Honolulu International Airport, the state’s only international airport and currently the country’s fourth busiest international port of entry. Easing access will encourage travel to the neighbor islands and repeat visits to our beautiful state,” Ige said.
Airports that do not have CBP international facilities, like Kona International Airport, will be allowed to begin to accept international flights, giving the Big Island an easier access point for tourists.
In addition to Narita International Airport in Japan, other locations and airports that will be included in the negotiation process include: Belgium’s Brussels Airport, the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana International Airport, Netherland’s Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Norway’s Oslo Airport, Sweden’s Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Turkey’s Istanbul Ataturk Airport, and the United Kingdom’s London Heathrow and Manchester Airports.