Joining with other industry groups, the Air Transport Association (ATA), commended Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV) for his work in making travel to the United States easier. Heck introduced the Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act, which would make the U.S. visa application process easier for international visitors and increase demand for air travel.
“Congressman Heck recognizes the importance of aviation and tourism to our economy and competitiveness as a country. This bill would eliminate many of the barriers and frustrations faced by potential international visitors to the United States without compromising our national security, and should be enacted as soon as possible,” said ATA President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio.
“Expanding access to rapidly growing global markets through an improved visa process is a key pillar of a much-needed National Airline Policy that would address the regulatory, tax and infrastructure issues that prevent the airline industry from contributing even more to the global economy and job creation," Calio said.
The legislation addresses many of the inefficiencies in the current U.S. visa system that makes travel to America more difficult, ATA notes. Specifically, the bill would direct the State Department to do the following:
• Hire the necessary foreign-service consular officers to support missions in China, Brazil and India to maintain a 12-day visa processing standard
• Implement a visa videoconferencing pilot program for conducting visa interviews
• Publish data on its website on wait times for visa interview appointments and visa application processing
• Coordinate and report how it is dealing with applicant demand and how demand corresponds with visitor projections
“There is clearly pent-up demand for increased U.S. visitation. If U.S. airlines are able to operate in an environment that is conducive to international expansion, the carriers will be able to add service, jobs and further drive overall economic growth of the country,” Calio said.