Immigration Process Still Slow Despite Additional Agents Added Last Year
Tourists arriving at the Cancun International Airport are facing increased wait times as they move through the entry process in immigration. The experiences are coming despite the addition of many new immigration agents last year.
Visitors this week were documenting their experiences on social media, with many of those arriving spending as much as 90 minutes waiting to be processed.
It’s a problem Cancun has been trying to deal with for several years but to no avail. As Cancun’s popularity continues to grow, the likelihood of multiple flights hitting the tarmac in quick succession will rise considerably, meaning more and more time will be spent processing.
Many passengers took pictures of the enormous lines with only two or three stations open to process new arrivals. It’s unclear why the other stations were unused. Large crowds formed with unorganized lines as no staff directed the arriving passengers to their correct station. Several of the complaints noted that the mood of the groups was not good, and much frustration was being vented, further slowing the process.
According to the airport itself, for the immigration process to move smoothly, four or five agents must be present to accommodate peak arrivals time, but more is preferred. A peak time would be around four flights arriving within a short period. With Cancun receiving over 500 flights a day during its peak months, it’s a problem that will continue to rise as more arrive shortly.
All of this comes despite last year’s announcement that the problem would be solved. Almost a year ago, the airport announced that it would be hiring 100 new immigration officers to help speed the process up. The claims at the time suggested that passengers would move through the entire entry process in just two minutes.
Before the increase, Cancun Airport employed only thirteen immigration officers. It is unclear how many are still used or why the allotment of stations seems so low currently. However, it was recently announced that the airport would have many aspects of its functionality taken over by the Mexican Navy.
The bulk of the military presence seems designed to counteract claims of extortion and fraud in the customs and security areas of the airport. Still, the Navy may also be used in the immigration department too.
The airport issues are another issues the Quintana Roo government needs to tackle to help cement Cancun’s place as a world-renowned destination. Its massive increase in popularity has, in part, been due to Mexico’s relaxed stance on COVID restrictions. With no entry requirements, Cancun skyrocketed to the top of many top travel lists, but the real challenge will begin as other countries start to loosen their own rules.
With many of the other Caribbean countries relaxing requirements and the European hotspots doing the same, convincing tourists to commit to the region becomes a tall order. Ironing out kinks in the administrative side of things will go a long way to improving the tourist experience.
More significant issues concern tourist safety in the region. Several high-profile incidents this year have asked questions of Cancun and the surrounding area in relation to organized crime’s effects. Tragic incidents have seen tourists killed in the cross-fire between rival gangs, while assassinations have taken place in broad daylight in some of the area’s most popular resorts.
Although tourists are generally unaffected, shocking violence is a public relations nightmare, and those not familiar with the area can be justifiably worried about visiting. Steps are being taken across the state to help counteract the natural effects, and for the most part, tourist figures seem undeterred. But once again, as the pandemic relaxes its grip on the travel industry, problems like this can be troublesome for Cancun.
Those hoping to visit Cancun in the near future should continue to keep on top of any restriction changes, both in their own country and in Mexico.
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