For most foreign visitors to the United States, the first face-to-face encounter with U.S. culture is a surly customs and immigration officer. In a recent survey commissioned by CNN, 89% of foreign tourists said they found the experience to be “less than satisfactory”.
To boost tourism, and create a more welcoming environment at U.S. airports, seventeen airport operators have joined forces with Krispy Kreme and Starbucks to create “welcome gateways”.
These gateways are essentially tourist service centers located before immigration at major international airports. Upon arrival, passengers will be able to purchase a cup of coffee and a doughnut while they prepare their immigration paperwork. Passengers arriving in premium class cabins may see their purchase comped by the airline.
Staff at the gateways will be trained to assist with the forms, and most locations will employ staff with a strong focus on foreign language skills.
The Airport Gateway Welcome Corporation was created without the need for any tax payer money and construction will be fully paid by the participating food service providers.
The first gateway should open at JFK airport just in time for the summer rush.