Boulder City Magazine® August 2007 Issue
by Jon C. Porter, Third District Congressman
National Security and our Tourism Industry
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, there was an understandable urgency to close the holes in our ports of entry, increase airport security and strengthen our visa systems. Unfortunately, in the rush to make these changes, there was a disconnect between the tourism industry and national security improvements. What was noticeably left out of the debate was the importance of international travel and tourism on our economy. As a result, some increased security measures have adversely affected international tourism.
Boulder City Magazine®
| Even now, in July 2007, our country continues to be perceived as “Fortress America” and that we no longer welcome international travelers.
Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) and I, as co-chairs of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, fully understand the need to find the right balance between legitimate national security, immigration and visa concerns and welcoming international visitors to our country. We understand that the travel industry is the one, single component of the United States economy that represents an opportunity to bring people of different cultures and backgrounds face-to-face to learn more about America and Americans.
How can we improve the perception that America no longer welcomes international visitors? We need to bring interoperability to the federal agencies responsible for international travel policies. Congressman Farr and I have been working to do that. This year, we got report language into both the Department of Homeland Security and State-Foreign Operations appropriations bills that addresses the allocation of Customs and Border Patrol officers for international air passenger processing; requires reporting for consular posts that take longer than 30 days for a personal interview after a visa request is submitted; provides a detailed, 3 year review of visa processing, including new programs and initiatives to improve both the security and efficiency of the visa process; gets committee support for a pilot program on visa video teleconferences; and requires reporting on what is necessary to implement an International Registered Traveler program at the U.S.’s 20 busiest international airports.
Contact U.S. Congressman Jon Porter at www.house.gov/porter.
P.O. Box 61901
Boulder City, Nevada 89006
Phone (702) 294-1392 Fax (702) 294-1392
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