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NTA Says Visa Waiver Expansion Good News for Travel Industry

(Forimmediaterelease.net) LEXINGTON, Ky. — Last week President Bush signed legislation that expands the Visa Waiver Program. The National Tour Association, a strong supporter of the expansion, welcomes this latest legislation, noting that it will help the United States regain lost market share in international travel and improve the U.S. image abroad.

“As part of NTA's 2007 advocacy priorities, NTA is committed to addressing border crossing issues to ensure a secure, timely and seamless transportation experience," said NTA Legislative Counsel Jim Santini. “This is welcome news for NTA tour operators and other travel companies that stand to benefit from the new spending that will be generated by the millions of additional annual visitors to the United States."

The new legislation will expand the program — which currently allows citizens from 27 countries to visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa — by 12 nations. Countries can qualify for the program by demonstrating that their citizens observe visa stay deadlines and maintain a refusal rate of 10 percent or lower for applicants seeking U.S. travel visas. Previously, the refusal rate was set at three percent. The new language also gives Homeland Security flexibility to approve a country's application based on its law enforcement and anti-terror cooperation with America.

The legislation, which addressed recommendations proposed by the 9/11 Commission, also contained provisions to improve the welcoming and arrival process at America's top 20 overseas inbound airports. The provisions should decrease the time it takes to get through customs, since more than 200 customs officers will be hired, and provide better information in the Federal Inspection Services area through promotional videos and brochures.

“The new Visa Waiver provisions will allow more legitimate travelers to visit the United States visa-free while enhancing our security," said Santini. “NTA believes this will stimulate international inbound tourism to the United States, welcoming friendly nations that deserve to be incorporated into the existing Visa Waiver program."

The National Tour Association was established in 1951 as a unified voice to fight legislation in the newly formed packaged travel industry. Today, NTA's government relations activities include monitoring security issues, as well as state and federal legislation and regulatory issues affecting the travel and tourism industry. NTA maintains full-time representation in Washington, D.C., to serve as the association's voice on Capitol Hill. Additionally, NTA empowers its members to be advocates for the association on the local level, as well as to provide support for NTA's positions on national priority issues through its Grassroots Action Network. For more information on NTA's government relations activities, please visit www.NTA.travel or call 800.682.8886.

Sara Morton, Public Relations Manager National Tour Association 546 East Main Street, Lexington, KY 40508 USA P: 859.226.4418 | 800.682.8886 (U.S. and Canada) F: 859.226.4447 | www.NTA.travel

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