Pitcher rubbishes new airport checks

Businessman and frequent flyer Robert Pitcher is hoping that new entry regulations announced today by the Immigration Department is nothing but an All Fools Day joke.

Pitcher described the decision to fingerprint all arriving and departing passengers at the island’s ports of entry from April 1 as “foolishness” and “stupidness”, arguing the move would hurt the tourism industry.

The new measure, announced today by Chief Immigration Officer Erine Griffith in a Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) release, will be followed later this year by facial scans.

Griffith urged the cooperation of the travelling public, explaining that the immigration department was “seeking to ensure the safety” of everyone using the ports.

However, in rubbishing the move Pitcher, a businessman who travels at least twice a month around the region, told Barbados TODAY the new measure would only add to existing problems at the airport and would discourage visitors.

He argued that with at least three international flights landing at Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) about the same time, there was already “a ram jam at best” at the airport.

Robert Pitcher
Robert Pitcher

“You know what kind of confusion you would have at an airport when you have to scan everybody and fingerprint everybody; all of the people from the [other Caribbean] islands travelling from one island to the next and coming through Barbados, we would be dead with tourism in the Caribbean. We would kill ourselves off. It is foolishness,” Pitcher charged.

The Government statement pointed out that the only exemptions to the regulations would be holders of diplomatic passports and children under the age of 16.

However, Pitcher argued that such measures should be “a global thing”.   

“If it is to be done, from the Queen back down should be fingerprinted and scanned. It is wrong for any Government minister holding a diplomatic passport to think that he is greater than the people who put them in power. It is foolishness,” he repeated.

The BGIS release did not give details of reasons for the measure or why it was being introduced at this time. However, it quoted Griffith as saying the security measures “brought Barbados in line” with international ports of entry and were mandatory under the Immigration (Biometrics) Regulation 2015.

Pitcher dismissed this argument, saying it would do nothing to raise the standards.

“Talking about international standards, in North America when you reach the age of 65 you do not take off your shoes, but in the Caribbean we haven’t changed that. We still continue with it,” he said, adding that tourists already had difficulty with the body scans and the requirement to remove their belts and shoes.

“Now for the next thing for you to do is to talk about you fingerprinting everybody that passing through the island? Stupidness!
. . . It will kill tourism”.

He claimed that the number of countries that fingerprinted travellers upon arrival were “few and far between” and that the move was “a step of destruction of the tourism industry in the Caribbean”.

The businessman recommended that anyone who posed a security threat should be “tracked and fingerprinted when they come to the island”. However, he made it clear he was not in favour of putting every passenger through the trouble.

Pitcher, who has been travelling for 50 years, suggested that instead of seeking to fingerprint persons entering and leaving the country, the authorities ought to ensure “we not only have an international airport but a category one airport. We need to do that. We are ten years behind with that”.

He advised Government to put its energies into fighting social ills and unemployment, and charged that the move was perhaps designed “to take the people’s mind off the present pressure being placed upon us”.

The BGIS release did not say how the system would be implemented or how cruise passengers would be processed.


10 Responses to Pitcher rubbishes new airport checks

  1. Bobo February 16, 2016 at 4:28 am

    I quite agree with Mr Pitcher–Barbados -Lawmakers are living in a primitive world –many countries issued ”Electronic Passports” on arrival at the airport there is a special Scanner machine where all is recorded—-Barbados Airport need such machine.

    Also Barbados Post–is way behind time –need of scanners. Jan.2016 i went to Six roads post office to send two pairs shoes to my adopted student , i had to open the parcel and reset it again. pure and simple primitive ignorance.

    Where are the Scanners at the Airport and the Post Office.

  2. Dawn February 16, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Fingerprinted…seriously!!!. At US ports of entry you only scan your fingers so it matches up with your passport. What tourist do you think is gonna stay in a line all day for that.? Plus with everything going on who wants their fingerprints being held by a foreign government? The immigration entry lines are already out the door, and don’t let 3 flights land at the same time…stupse. Why don’t you invest in measures to get rid of the line? Where are the passport scanners?Bim is so behind time. The US, Canada, EU should be exempt because you have already gone through scans with passports at those departures. They are not going to let anyone on a no fly list to fly.You can’t even get a passport if you owe child support over 2,000 usd. Stupid idea!

  3. JayTee February 16, 2016 at 10:32 am

    *BS* baffles brains. I’ve always heard that. The powers to be in Barbados must have been swayed financially to implement this system.
    I travel fairly often from Toronto, and have never been finger printed in and out. The same goes for the USA, so what’s to be gained from this unnecessary delay in processing??
    Wake up Barbados!! I agree with Bobby P. It will kill tourism, as already too many visitors complain at the length it takes to be processed through immigration.
    They should come to Toronto, and see how expeditious the processing of passengers takes place. I can assure, during the 7 – 10 pm period at Toronto, the number of arrivals is twice that of BGI at any time.

  4. Tony February 16, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    This is typical of politicians. Don’t fix the QEH or health care in Bim, don’t fix the roads, don’t fix the social problems or unemployment, don’t fix the high cost of food purchases but fingerprint everyone coming in to Bim. One day the arrogance of bajan politicians will catch up with them and when the tourists stop coming I hope the people rise up and put their finger prints all over the imbeciles who do nothing to earn their salaries.

    • Lisa February 16, 2016 at 8:53 pm


  5. islandgal February 16, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    The problem I have with this is how long will these scanners be working? We have a poor record of maintenance. Look at the problem with the drive’s licenses. The only working machine is now in the Pine so ALL of Barbados must go to the Pine to have this done.

  6. Anthony February 16, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Why is all the fuss??? I have been using Global Entry at JFK and Miami airports and it is faster than standing in line and waiting your turn for an Immigration officer.
    I scan my passport, the machine takes a photo and I provide my finger prints to the machine and if accepted; I answer the few questions and I am done.
    You take the printed form with your picture to customs when you are exiting the baggage area.

    There is no Immigration Officer to deal with except you encounter problems with the machine.

  7. Susan February 16, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Why complain. Yet most of you travel to the US and have to comply with the rules. You have to be fingerprinted upon arrival. Just silly. With all the craziness going on in the world you would think ppl would be happy with such things. If you have nothing to hide what’s the issue…

  8. John Achong February 16, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    I am in full agreement with Mr. Pithcher. Adding insult to injuries it seems…

  9. Tony Waterman February 16, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I have travelled to Holland, The UK, The USA, and in and out of Canada Regularly, and has NEVER been Fingerprinted, because the Constitution of Canada and the Charter oif Rights and Freedoms does NOT permit it, up to this point Fingerprinting id reserved for Persons who have been Charged with a CRIME.
    Barbados has NO database of Criminals International or otherwise, Barbados does NOT subscribe to AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) so are they going to Fingerprint everyone to Match them against WHAT? how will they know if the person is a Criminal or not?? this is sheer STUPIDITY, and i WILL be a Tourism Killer, no one who comes from a Country that has Constitutional Protection will not stand for this Nonsense, and they will just go to Bali, or Jamaica, ot The Dominican Republic,
    somewhere else where Bullsjit is not prevelant, they want to enjoy their Vacation, not be treated like Criminals.
    Mr.Minister, will you rescind this stupid/Silly/Backward Law. was this even passed into law by the ELECTED Parliament.
    I wonder how they propose to handle three cruse liners on the same day ?????????


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