June 15, 2012 -
The U.S.A and the Republic of Korea have launched a reciprocal program where low-risk travelers of both countries can sign-up for easier entry to either country.
The announcement was made by Janet Napolitano of the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Minister of Justice Jae-Jin Kwon of the Republic of Korea. This will pave the way for members of Korea’s Smart Entry Service to apply for the US’ Global Entry, and vice versa.
The Republic of Korea is the third country to sign up with the U.S. for this traveler program, with the other two being Canada and the Netherlands. This also makes Korea the first country in Asia to have ever been granted this permanent trusted traveler program.
Global Entry kiosks and Smart Entry Service e-gates are set up in the busiest international airports in the U.S and Korea. Upon arrival, program travelers will proceed to the kiosks and present their machine-readable passport and place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make customs declaration. They will be issued with a transaction receipt, upon which they will be directed to the baggage claim and the exit. This process great reduces the time spent on inspection of program travelers compared to those passing through traditional terminals.
Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries showed an increase in the number of visitors coming from Korea. Over 1.1 million Korean travelers came to the U.S. in 2011, a record number, which practically doubled the number of travelers recorded since 2004. It brought in tourist revenue to more than $3.8 billion for the U.S.
The top three airports used were Los Angeles International Airport, John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City and Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport in Guam. This posed a challenge to the tourism industry to expand circuits to other destinations in the U.S.
Brand USA CEO Jim Evans said, “Our country (U.S.) offers limitless travel opportunities from the bustling cities to the majestic mountains and expansive shorelines. It is so important that visitors feel that we are welcoming them with open arms. We need to get the word out and communicate this new U.S. entry policy.”