WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, commended Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV) for his work in making travel to the United States easier. Heck today introduced the Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act, which would make the U.S. visa application process easier for international visitors and increase demand for air travel.
"Congressman Heck recognizes the importance of aviation and tourism to our economy and competitiveness as a country. This bill would eliminate many of the barriers and frustrations faced by potential international visitors to the United States without compromising our national security, and should be enacted as soon as possible," said ATA President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. "Expanding access to rapidly growing global markets through an improved visa process is a key pillar of a much-needed National Airline Policy that would address the regulatory, tax and infrastructure issues that prevent the airline industry from contributing even more to the global economy and job creation."
The legislation addresses many of the inefficiencies in the current U.S. visa system that makes travel to America more difficult. Specifically, the bill would direct the State Department to do the following:
- Hire the necessary foreign-service consular officers to support missions in China, Brazil, and India to maintain a 12-day visa processing standard
- Implement a visa videoconferencing pilot program for conducting visa interviews
- Publish data on its website on wait times for visa interview appointments and visa application processing
- Coordinate and report how it is dealing with applicant demand and how demand corresponds with visitor projections
"There is clearly pent-up demand for increased U.S. visitation. If U.S. airlines are able to operate in an environment that is conducive to international expansion, the carriers will be able to add service, jobs and further drive overall economic growth of the country," Calio said.
Annually, commercial aviation helps drive more than $1 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. ATA airline members and their affiliates transport more than 90 percent of all U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic. For more information about the airline industry, visit www.airlines.org and follow us on Twitter @airlinesassn.
SOURCE Air Transport Association