President Obama signed an executive order on January 19 with a number of positive changes in travel. The full White House press release warrants detailed study. The Economist’s Gulliver has a pithy summary. The US Travel Association led a lobbying effort called Ready for Takeoff to push this through. Congress, perhaps busy with high performing investments, did not act, so an executive order was issued.
The main thrust of the bill is to make it easier for foreign tourists to visit and spend in the US. Skip over all the committee and commission stuff. There is a Visa Pilot Program for Brazilians and Chinese, and Taiwan has been nominated to the Visa Waiver Program. This will be a boon to many businesses. For Chinese speakers, RFI has a good discussion with a correspondent in Taipei.
Tucked into the order is great news for US travelers:
- Final Rule to Expand and Make the Global Entry Program Permanent:
- Global Entry is a program within the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection that was created as a pilot in 2008 to facilitate expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Through a final rule, the Administration will expand and make the Global Entry program permanent. Due in part to innovative public-private partnerships, the Global Entry program now has more than 246,000 members, more than one million trusted travelers have Global Entry benefits, and efforts are underway to expand enrollment even further. There are currently 131 Global Entry kiosks at 20 airports and since launching, members have used Global Entry kiosks over 1.7 million times, saving CBP officers over 36,450 inspection hours—staff hours that CBP has then re-allocated to expedite regular passenger queues. This final rule will allow the program to be expanded to an additional 4 airports in Minneapolis, Charlotte, Denver and Phoenix, making the Global Entry program and expedited clearance available in airports that service approximately 97% of international travelers.