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Seven Countries to Join U.S. Visa Waiver Program Next Month

October 21, 2008

Seven Countries to Join U.S. Visa Waiver Program Next Month
Last Friday, U.S. President George W. Bush outlined the upcoming expansion of the Visa Waiver Program. By mid-November, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and South Korea will be added to the program, which allows citizens from approved countries to travel to the United States for stays up to 90 days without first obtaining a visa.

As part of the program, participating countries agree to share information on their citizens visiting the United States, and everyone must register online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization initiative and be approved before traveling. The addition of the seven countries will bring the total of Visa Waiver Program nations to 34, and further expansion may be on the horizon, as President Bush expressed support for the eventual inclusion of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Poland and Romania.

“NTA welcomes the expansion of the Visa Waiver Program and the benefits that increased international visitation bring to the United States,” said Bob Hoelscher, CTP, NTA Chairman and CEO. “More international visitors mean more jobs in the travel and tourism economy as well as a better image of the U.S. abroad. NTA will do all it can to assist its members to take advantage of these new markets.”

The expansion of the program, which was part of a larger effort to implement recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, should bring thousands of more visitors to the United States annually and further add to the positive impact tourism has on the U.S. economy and job market.

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