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U.S. Travel Association

National Trusted Traveler Program would benefit travelers, industry, says ASTA

ASTA came out in strong support of the U.S. Travel Association’s (USTA) proposal that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) develop a national “trusted traveler” program that would allow travelers who provide biometric and biographical information, among other things, to pass through an alternative screening process.

“A federal trusted traveler program such as the one proposed by the USTA would not only focus government security resources on those travelers who pose the greatest risk but would go a long way to restoring consumer confidence in the travel industry, and specifically the airline security process,” said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo.

“Recent changes to passenger screening procedures have caused a great deal of public outcry. To be sure, the traveling public has legitimate concerns regarding their privacy and civil liberties that should be addressed, but these concerns must be weighed against the paramount need for secure air transportation. We believe that a ‘trusted traveler’ program would provide the right balance between the two, making the air security system more efficient and effective, and altogether more pleasant for the traveling public,” Russo added.

According to USTA, “travelers who voluntarily share biometric and biographical information, pass robust background checks to confirm their ‘low-risk’ nature and are verified by TSA at the time of travel would be allowed to pass through an alternative security process.” In calling for the federal government to develop such a program, the USTA outlined four principles for the federal government to incorporate: 1) Screen passengers for security risks prior to checkpoints; 2) Refocus security resources; 3) Deter potential threats; and 4) Guard Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.

“ASTA believes these are the correct guiding principles that, if properly implemented, could lead us to a more secure and also more respectful process at the nation’s airports,” said Russo.”Everyone but the terrorists can win with this approach.”

The mission of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. ASTA seeks a retail travel marketplace that is profitable and growing and a rewarding field in which to work, invest and do business.