Travel industry says security requirements harm business

Published 11 January 2006

We reported a few days ago about a group of business leaders in Florida calling on the U.S. government to relax a bit some homeland security strictures because of the damage they cause to the state economy. There is another voice lending support to this argument: Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, who is also chairman of the Travel Industry Association of America, said that the U.S. travel industry is suffering from the perception in other countries that security restrictions on passports and visas are too burdensome, the head of the industry’s main lobbying group said Tuesday. He said that foreign travelers — discouraged by visa fees and travel document applications — often avoid the United States in favor of countries which are perceived as more welcoming to foreigners. “The general takeaway is that the U.S. doesn’t trust you,” Rasulo told members during the group’s annual meeting. “We need to alleviate that pain with a healthy dose of hospitality.”

Citizens living in about 87 percent of countries need visas to enter the United States — a process that may involve traveling long distances to a U.S. embassy and paying up to $100 for a visa. Rasulo said even U.S.-bound travelers who do not need visas — because they hail from the twenty-seven visa-waiver countries such as England and France — are intimidated or misinformed about new passport requirements invoked after 9/11.

The travel industry worries that after October 2006, the deadline the United States has given the visa-waiver countries to offer their citizens biometric passports, even more travelers will stay away from the United States.

-read more in Caitlin Harrington’s CQreport (sub. req.)