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National Business Travel Association

NBTA urges biometric passport extension for visa waiver countries

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) delivered letters to Representative…

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) delivered letters to Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senator George Allen (R-VA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcomittee on European Affairs; and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in support of a further extension of the deadline for countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to begin issuing passports that include biometric data identifying the passport holder.

The letters addressed a recent letter from Chairman Sensenbrenner to the European Union, which stated that an extension of the deadline requested by the EU is “unlikely” and that EU countries should “plan without the expectation that there will be an extension of the deadline.”

“The first concern of NBTA has always been of security, so we understand Chairman Sensenbrenner’s concerns. However, it is important that discussions on this issue continue, as countries need additional time to comply with the impending deadline and international business travel is vital to our national interest,” said NBTA Executive Director and COO, Bill Connors, CTC.

“It would be irresponsible of the United States to create international policy that will cost businesses revenue and productivity. International travel is crucial to the American economy, and NBTA is vehemently opposed to any action that could result not only in a downturn of business travelers to the U.S., but in possible retaliation against US business travelers overseas,” continued Connors.

From the beginning, NBTA has been on the forefront of the VWP biometric passport issue, working with the State Department and various Congressional Committees to reach the best solution. In May 2004, NBTA testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on European Affairs, urging an extension of the original October 2004 deadline. The one-year extension announced the following month was a victory not only for NBTA, but for our national interests.

Today Connors said, “NBTA encourages an extension of the current October 2005 deadline. It will be economically and financially impossible for all VWP countries to make that target, and we urge Congress and the State Department to work with the impacted countries to keep the lines of communication open.”

The National Business Travel Association is the source for critical information on the business travel industry. For more than 35 years, NBTA has dedicated itself to the professional development of its members through advocacy, education and training, and networking opportunities. NBTA represents over 2,500 corporate travel managers and travel service providers, who collectively manage and direct more than $170 billion of expenditures within the business travel industry.