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U.S. Travel Supports Improved Entry for Foreign Visitors

August 12, 2009 By: George Dooley

The U.S. Travel Association joined with other groups to welcome the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announcement that its international registered traveler program, known as Global Entry, has been expanded from seven to 20 airports. U.S. Travel said it had advocated for creation of the program and funding for its expansion to the top 20 U.S. airports for international arrivals.

"Today's expansion of Global Entry will enhance our security and further streamline the entry system for frequent travelers to our country," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel. "We encourage the U.S. government to enable more foreign countries to participate in this program."

Global entry allows for the expedited clearance of pre-approved, low-risk travelers into the United States, including returning U.S. citizens. The program uses fingerprint biometric technology to verify a registered member and confirm their status. Once admitted into the program, participants entering the United States use automated kiosks located in the CBP inspection area to move through the inspection process without undergoing a person-to-person CBP interview. The average time for Global Entry processing is 40 seconds.

Global entry launched on June 6, 2008 at seven pilot airports of entry after its original authorization in 2004. Participating airports included JFK International Airport, Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. In October and November 2008, the program expanded to Los Angeles, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Chicago O'Hare, Miami and additional JFK terminals.

New airports added in the expanded program include:
*    Newark Liberty International Airport
*    San Francisco International Airport
*    Orlando International Airport
*    Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
*    Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
*    Honolulu International Airport
*    Boston - Logan International Airport
*    Las Vegas - McCarran International Airport
*    Sanford - Orlando International Airport
*    Seattle - Tacoma International Airport-SEATAC
*    Philadelphia International Airport
*    San Juan - Luis Munos Marin International Airport
*    Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport

As of July 2009, approximately 20,000 individuals have applied for the program, approximately 14,500 had been enrolled and 42,000 crossings had been documented. The majority of participants in the Global Entry program are U.S. citizens, although the U.S. struck a reciprocal agreement with the Netherlands in May of this year.

The U.S. Government, namely the Departments of Homeland Security and State, has made strides in recent years in improving the U.S. visa and entry experience, U.S. Travel said.

“In addition to these operational improvements, it is critical that America better explain its security policies and send a more welcoming message to international travelers," Dow said. "U.S. Travel strongly supports passage of the Travel Promotion Act (S. 1023, H.R. 2935) to highlight our nation's improved entry process and enable the United States to welcome millions of additional visitors.”

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