Website spotlights significant dilemma in entry procedures voiced by international travelers upon arrival at nation's gateway airports
The U.S. Travel Association today launched "Traveler's Voice" (www.travelersvoice.org) to help deliver appeals from travelers to improve the U.S. entry process. The website features video messages from international travelers immediately following their exit from immigration and customs checkpoints. Travelers report long wait times and delays caused by insufficient staffing and urge "those with the authority to enact change" to invest in additional officers to assist in processing inbound travelers.
"The message could not be more clear. Our international guests think actions like increasing the number of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials would improve and speed the entry process," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "International travelers visit our country to conduct business, experience our destinations and sites and, most importantly, contribute billions of dollars to our economy. It is deeply concerning that due to a lack of adequate resources our entry procedure is viewed as frustrating and slow by valued international travelers. U.S. Travel is committed to ensuring that Congress hears their voices, alongside those of domestic travelers and American businesses, and gives CBP the resources they need to support a world-class entry system."
Traveler's Voice spotlights interviews with international travelers over the past four weeks at airports immediately following the entry process. Travelers were complimentary of CBP officers, but concerned by the lack of available staffing to quickly process visitors.
"I would say just invest, because obviously people are coming here. They are investing in the economy, so invest in the staffing to make sure that people want to come back and keep investing in the economy," said Ian, a business traveler from Europe, in his message to policymakers.
A recent survey conducted by Consensus Research Group for U.S. Travel revealed overseas travelers are avoiding visiting the United States due to often lengthy lines and delays at customs. By experience and word-of-mouth, nearly 100 million overseas travelers are getting the message to avoid travel to the United States – putting at risk $95 billion and 518,900 jobs across the country.
The comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate (S. 744) provides for an additional 3,500 CBP officers and calls for reducing average primary processing wait times at high-volume international airports by 50 percent. The bill also sets a goal of screening 80 percent of air passengers being processed at high-volume international airports within 30 minutes by the end of fiscal year 2016. As the U.S. House of Representatives begins work on immigration reform, it is important that they too address the customs entry process by providing the necessary staffing and setting appropriate metrics for a more efficient entry system.
"I applaud the Senate for their actions to improve the entry process and urge the House to address the wait time delays we are hearing about first-hand from international travelers. U.S. Travel and our members are calling on Congress and the Administration to invest in several thousand new CBP officers to assist in processing our nation's guests. This critical step will help stem the inconsistent and lengthy entry process that many travelers report and will help the U.S. realize billions in new traveler spending," added Dow.
To hear directly from international travelers about their experience during entry into the United States and to take action to urge Congress to invest in additional staffing to improve the entry process visit www.travelersvoice.org.
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