Travel industry officials praised congressional leaders for passing legislation that improves and strengthens U.S. visa and entry policies to increase efficiency and enhance security in the travel process. The travel industry leaders noted broad congressional support for the travel-related provisions in the fiscal 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The bill now awaits President Bush's signature.
The travel system reform provisions in the sections of the bill that fund the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State include $40 million for "model ports" at America's top 20 international airports to streamline the visitor entry process; 200 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers; establishment of the International Registered Traveler (IRT) Program to expedite the inspection of frequent U.S. and international travelers arriving by air into the United States; $26 million for Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to implement a fully automated electronic travel authorization system to collect basic biographical information to determine, in advance of travel, the eligibility of a foreign visitor to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program; and other various funding. Visit www.tia.org. (DB)