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TIA Testifies On Delaying Western Hemisphere Initiative

June 8, 2006 By: Peggy Cope Travel Agent

TIA President and CEO, Roger Dow, told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on Thursday that the federal government must carefully implement security measures so that they do not strangle legitimate commerce and travel across our borders. TIA and its strategic partner the Travel Business Roundtable support implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative but continue to have concerns with the government's execution of the program and the likelihood that all processes will be working effectively by the imposed deadlines. During his testimony, Dow remarked that there has never been any question of why to implement the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, or if it should be done. But Dow went on to say that getting WHTI right is more important than trying to rush to market solutions that do not work, and may only lead to chaos and confusion at the border. As a result, TIA and TBR believe that an extension of the January 1, 2008 deadline is needed, as is some very specific guidance regarding pricing of passports or alternative travel documents. TIA and TBR have offered numerous options towards a workable solution, including exercising broad discretion in determining which documents other than passports will be accepted; developing, in cooperation with the Canadian government, low-cost alternative travel documents for both Americans and Canadians; and creating price incentives for the broader distribution of U.S. passports.

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