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NTA, Industry Succeed in Passport Delay

September 29, 2006

NTA, Industry Succeed in Passport Delay
Sept. 29, 2006 – Following a long legislative battle, the National Tour Association and its industry allies are claiming victory today, since a bill that includes provisions to delay the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is expected to pass the U.S. House and Senate. The amended bill could push back the deadline for the land and sea portions of the initiative until to June 1, 2009. Originally, the initiative called for all travelers entering the U.S. from the Western Hemisphere to have a passport or other secure travel documents by Jan. 1, 2008.


"A major crisis has been averted at our nation’s land borders," said NTA Legislative Counsel Jim Santini. "This common-sense adoption of a June 1, 2009, deadline ensures that proper security procedures and technologies are in place so that legitimate travel and tourism remains unimpeded. This is a great victory for North American tourism."


According to the United States Chamber of Commerce, details from the amended bill include:


  • The technology to be used by the United States for the passport (PASS) card and any subsequent change to that technology is to be shared with the governments of Canada and Mexico;
  • An alternative procedure must be developed for groups of children traveling under adult supervision with parental consent;
  • The necessary technological infrastructure to process the PASS cards must be installed and all employees at ports of entry must have been properly trained in the use of the new technology prior to implementation;
  • The PASS card has been made available for the purpose of international travel by U.S. citizens through land and sea ports of entry between the United States and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. This means that the PASS card would be suitable for Caribbean cruise travelers.

On April 5, 2005, the administration announced plans for what we now refer to as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. These new requirements were expected to be in place by Jan. 1, 2008, and were called for in legislation approved in 2004 by Congress. Since that time NTA and its industry partners have been challenging the passport mandate. The industry has be citing disruption to cross-border travel for negligible security gain.

NTA and the industry groups also cited the possibility of major disruptions in student/youth travel, since this demographic is unlikely to have passports and costs to obtain them would be prohibitive for many young travelers. They were also concerned that cross-border traffic would be stymied because it is unlikely that sufficient technological and personnel processes would be in place by the Jan. 1, 2008, deadline.

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 or call 800.682.8886.


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