Immigration braces for passenger influx during SEA Games, holiday season

Robie de Guzman
Foreign nationals arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R, MALASIG)

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday said it has placed its officers on heightened alert amid the expected surge of passengers due to the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the holiday rush.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said they are projecting around 8,000 delegates, including spectators for the SEA Games which will start on Nov. 30, while a 3% increase in arrivals and departures is expected during the holiday season in December.

“We are certain that there will be more tourists and balikbayans who will be flying in this Christmas,” he said in a statement.

Data from the BI showed that more than 1.5 million passengers arrived in the country and more than 1.2 million left in December 2018.

In anticipation of a surge of travelers in the coming weeks, the bureau said it is enforcing a “no leave, no absences” policy for its officers during the SEA Games and holiday rush.

“Our men have been instructed not to go on leave during the peak season to maximize our manpower,” BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said.

The bureau also advised passengers anew to arrive at least three hours before their scheduled flights and to bear with possible line queues.

The agency said build-ups can sometimes happen when delayed flights arrive simultaneously especially during peak season.

“We appeal to everyone to bear with us should there be some build-up, which sometimes happens during peak seasons. But you can be assured that processing is now much faster following the numerous improvements we have implemented in our international ports,” Medina said.

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