International Policy Issues
U.S. Travel Association's International Policy Positions
International Visitor Snapshot
The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries at the Department of Commerce provides data on international visitation; however, the travel industry has insight that numbers lack. Help U.S. Travel better localize the impact that International travelers have on the nation’s economy. Please share your data and information on international visitation.
Global Entry (International Registered Traveler Program)
Global Entry is a travel facilitation program that provides frequent, low-risk travelers expedited processing through U.S. immigration checkpoints. Global Entry applicants must be screened through a name-based and biometric security review, as well as a personal interview, and approved by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Admitted applicants are then able to use automated kiosks in the CBP inspection area when entering the U.S., allowing them to move through the inspection process without undergoing a person-to-person CBP interview. The program both enhances security by allowing CBP officers to concentrate on potentially higher-risk travelers and benefits travelers by streamlining the entry system – reducing average wait times by 70 percent. Global Entry is currently open to citizens and nationals of the United States and lawful permanent residents of the United States. Citizens of the Netherlands may also apply under a special reciprocal arrangement that links Global Entry with the Privium program in Amsterdam.
Model Ports of Entry
Due to a growing perception among international travelers that the United States has one of the world’s worst entry systems, in January 2006, then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and then Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff created a pilot “model airport” program to reduce passenger processing wait times and establish a more welcoming environment at inspection areas. In 2007, Congress fully authorized a Model Ports Program and appropriated $40 million to expand it to the 20 U.S. airports with the highest number of inbound international visitors and hire no fewer than 200 new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at those model airports. Since the program’s creation, DHS has initiated several improvements to expedite and enhance passenger processing, including installing flat-screen monitors in the processing area to educate passengers about the screening process and establishing a new professionalism program to improve customer service training for its officers.
No country can afford to sit on the sidelines in the competition for global visitors and the economic impact they deliver. Countries invest billions of dollars in travel promotion efforts to win a greater share of the international travel market. In 2010, Congress enacted the Travel Promotion Act (TPA) to strengthen our ability to compete for international visitors. TPA authorized the creation of Brand USA, a public-private partnership to promote America’s many attractions to the world. By virtually any measure, Brand USA has been an outstanding success, and this vital program should be extended. It markets and promotes attractions and destinations in every corner of the United States—and every state has reaped its benefits.
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP), created in 1986, is a critical tool for promoting travel to America and enhancing its public diplomacy efforts by permitting business and leisure travelers from 35 countries to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without obtaining a non-immigrant visitor visa. In 2008, the countries in the VWP generated more than 16 million visits to the U.S. – accounting for 65 percent of all overseas arrivals last year. These VWP travelers spent more than $51 billion in the U.S. in 2008, excluding international airfare. That spending generated 512,000 jobs, $13 billion in payroll and $7.8 billion in government taxes for the U.S. economy in 2008. The VWP also allows the federal government to strengthen our nation’s homeland security efforts by allowing it to shift resources towards screening visitors from higher risk countries.
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, created by the Departments of State (DOS) and Homeland Security (DHS), requires all travelers (including U.S. citizens) to have a passport or other approved, secure document to establish identity and citizenship upon entry or re-entry into the United States from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The purpose of WHTI, as recommended by the 9/11 Commission, is to strengthen U.S. border security by facilitating the entry of travelers through the use of standardized documentation that allows the federal government to quickly and reliably identify individuals.