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NTA calls for support of new WHTI Legislation

The National Tour Association is urging its U.S. members and travel industry professionals to contact their U.S. senators about co-sponsoring the Western Hemisphere Traveler Improvement Act. Introduced by…

The National Tour Association is urging its U.S. members and travel industry professionals to contact their U.S. senators about co-sponsoring the Western Hemisphere Traveler Improvement Act. Introduced by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the legislation aims to lessen the burden of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which could take effect for land and sea as early as January 2008.



The Western Hemisphere Traveler Improvement Act will create a nationwide secure driver`s license program for cross border travel and will delay WHTI implementation.



The National Tour Association supports provisions that allow for a smoother implementation of the passport mandate and help to minimize cross-border travel disruptions, said NTA Legislative Counsel Jim Santini. These reasonable modifications to WHTI will help to maintain border integrity and facilitate cross-border tourism. Members of the travel industry must act now by contacting their U.S. Senators and ask they co-sponsor The Western Hemisphere Traveler Improvement Act to S. 1348.



The legislation requires that low-cost passport alternatives are available when WHTI takes effect and would allow children under the age of 16 traveling with parents, and children under 18 traveling in a school or other group, to cross the border with a birth certificate rather than a passport. It also requires sufficient staffing to meet increasing passport demand, an analysis of a pilot program that explores enhanced driver`s licenses as documentation for cross-border travel and a full cost-benefit analysis of WHTI.



Additional criteria include the designation of at least six permanent locations near the border where passport applications can be accepted without the processing fee. For smaller and rural communities, it requires mobile free enrollment centers.



NTA has been concerned that a hasty implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative would serve as an unnecessary and avoidable impediment to cross-border travel, said NTA Chairman and CEO Randy Julian. We salute senators Coleman and Collins for their efforts to promote secure borders and healthy cross-border travel and tourism.

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