TIA Launches New Passport Info Web Site

During a media conference call Monday, the Travel Industry Association announced the launch of a new web site designed to educate the public about the passport application process. The web site, [www.getapassportnow.com] grew out of legitimate concern about how the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will affect travel from the U.S. to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Beginning Jan. 23, U.S. passports will be required for air travelers returning from the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada, while land and cruise passengers are facing a later deadline of June 1, 2009. "We suspect that this deadline will actually start sometime in 2008," says Roger Dow, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association. Currently only 27 percent of U.S. citizens have passports. Dow notes that the aim of the new web site is to communicate the passport application process in clear and easy to understand language. He also noted that demand for U.S. passports is up 60 percent, and passport offices are currently averaging three weeks to process an application, considerably better than the stated four-to-six week waiting time. Visitors to the web site will be able to type in their Zip Code to access information on the closest location to apply for a passport. The new web site is designed to provide information to U.S., Canadian and Mexican citizens.

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