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WHTI Provisions Needed for Both Students and Seniors

February 28, 2007

WHTI Provisions Needed for Both Students and Seniors
Feb. 28, 2007 –Speaking to their U.S. counterparts at the National Governors Association conference, some of Canada’s provincial premiers said Sunday that they support flexibility regarding travel documents required for U.S. and Canadian senior citizens as part of Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requirements for U.S. land and sea border entry in 2008. This comes just days after the Bush administration agreed to exempt children from the passport requirements.

"I think it’s a natural for us to exempt seniors," said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in an article published Monday. "I think some of the very same reasons that would have motivated the exemption of children could apply to seniors."

NTA has long supported legislation that would lower passport fees for students and seniors. In July 2005 NTA submitted a letter on this topic in partnership with the Student & Youth Travel Association and the United States Tour Operators Association, to the U.S. Department of State Counselor Affairs and to the Department of Homeland Security.

The letter cited the difficulties the initiative would add for the student and senior market, stating that it would cause a "significant expense to cross-border travel for these groups, for negligible security gain." The letter further added that as a result, "student travel will be limited in its scope and educational impact, while fixed-income seniors will have to budget more money for a cruise or cross-border trip."

As it stands now, as early as Jan. 1, 2008, U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea will be required to present a valid U.S. passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. While recent legislative changes permit a later deadline, the departments of State and Homeland Security are working to meet all requirements as soon as possible. Ample advance notice will be provided to enable the public to obtain acceptable documents for land and sea entries.

NTA joins with its Canadian friends in urging the U.S. Congress to adopt the same less-restrictive measures for seniors that it just proposed for students.

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