Travel Agent Appreciation

ASTA commends tourism strategy progress

ASTA is praising the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security (DHS) for the progress made in implementing the Administration’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy, as outlined in a report issued today (Sept. 19). “We commend the State Department and DHS for their successes in meeting key goals of the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, including an expansion of Trusted Traveler programs such as Global Entry and PreCheck, and for dramatically bringing down international visa wait times,”said ASTA president Nina Meyer. “As the Strategy notes, travel agents play a critical role in today’s travel industry, including that of driving international visitors to the United States, so we stand ready to continue our work with the Administration to meet the Strategy’s goals.”Among the highlights of the report: !!! Eighty-eight percent of applicants worldwide are interviewed within three weeks of submitting their applications, exceeding the Strategy’s goal of 80%. Average wait times have been reduced in key inbound markets such as China (to five days) and Brazil (two days). !!! Expansion of Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) “Global Entry”program, which allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk air travellers upon arrival in the United States. CBP has processed more than 1.2 million Global Entry passengers to date in 2012, an increase of more than 500,000 travellers compared to the same time in 2011. !!! As of the beginning of August, more than two million US passengers were processed through the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) “PreCheck”program, which is an expedited screening program now available at certain US airports. TSA expects to bring PreCheck to a total of 35 domestic airports, encompassing 51 checkpoints, by the end of 2012. According to the White House, in 2011, travel and tourism generated US$1.4 trillion in economic activity and supported 7.5 million jobs (exports generated from international visitors supported 1.2 million of those jobs). This scale of activity makes tourism the United States’ top services export. ASTA was an active participant in stakeholder meetings at which the National Travel and Tourism Strategy was developed.

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