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Senate Passes Coleman/Dorgan Amendment Addressing Industry Concerns

May 26, 2006

Senate Passes Coleman/Dorgan Amendment Addressing Industry Concerns
May 26, 2006 – Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Senate passed the Coleman/Dorgan bipartisan amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill. The National Tour Association applauds the Senate for taking this significant step of tremendous importance to the North American travel industry, since the amendment addresses several critical issues embedded in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which will require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to have a passport or other accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States from Canada, the Americas and the Caribbean.


Currently, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative has a implementation date of Dec. 31, 2007, but the Coleman/Dorgan amendment postpones implementation until June 1, 2009, allowing time for a comprehensive public education campaign on cross-border travel requirements.


NTA and the Student Youth Travel Association told senators that WHTI would seriously curtail educational travel to and from Canada. The Coleman/Dorgan amendment addresses this concern since it "authorizes the Secretary {of Homeland Security} to waive documentary requirements for children traveling in groups of six or more to/from Canada, provided that each child can demonstrate parental consent." Furthermore, fees established for the proposed People Access Security Services card, which would be accepted for cross-border travel, have been capped at $20 and would be waived for travelers age 18 and under. Additionally, the amendment establishes a 72-hour "day pass" for those not possessing a passport or a PASS card.


NTA and SYTA worked with Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) to iron out key provisions of the amendment and worked to line up co-sponsors at the 11th hour. The bipartisan nature of the co-sponsors helped ensure Senate support of this important legislation.


"This is a huge victory for the travel industry," said NTA President Hank Phillips, CTP. "These common-sense changes to WHTI will help to maintain border integrity yet facilitate cross-border tourism. But the fight is not over. We have to keep working to ensure this amendment survives the conference committee."


"Success on this important issue demonstrates what the industry can do when it works together," stated NTA Legislative Counsel Jim Santini. "Our colleagues at SYTA and with the BESTT and Passport Coalitions are to be commended for their tireless efforts to preserve cross-border travel. We also appreciate the efforts of those senators who co-sponsored the Coleman/Dorgan amendment. We will move forward to see that these important provisions make it through the conference committee process."


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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