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Travel Industry Leaders Claim Majority of Americans Still
Confused Over Passport Requirements
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A Passport Now Required Regardless of the Country from Which U.S. Citizens are
Returning Including Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean
Washington DC (May 3, 2007) — Travel industry leaders today called for more communications outreach from the federal government after a new survey of nearly 2,000 travelers revealed that the majority of Americans do not know a passport is now required when returning to the U.S. via air from other Western Hemisphere countries.
 
“While the U.S. travel industry supports the changes under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), this research only reconfirms our fear that travelers are not very well informed about the WHTI requirement overall,” said Roger Dow, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Travel Industry Association (TIA).  “The results of this survey underscore the need for substantially more outreach to the traveling public on WHTI and the necessity of not beginning land and cruise enforcement until U.S. and international travelers better understand these new requirements.”
 
Dow also stated this apparent lack of understanding about the new passport requirement “is likely to complicate travel plans for many of the estimated 10 million U.S. citizens who are expected to take a foreign vacation this summer.” 
 
According to the new travelhorizons™ survey of 1,980 American adults just released by the Travel Industry Association and Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, over half of U.S. travelers (56%) could not correctly answer a question about the countries from which a passport is now required for all U.S. citizens returning by air (a passport is now required regardless of the country from which U.S. citizens are returning), 22% weren’t sure about the requirements, and 7% stated no passport was required for any returning resident regardless of the country visited. 
 
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative passed by Congress two years ago calls for all U.S. citizens leaving the country to possess a passport when re-entering the U.S. from places such as Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.  The original deadline for implementation of this requirement among travelers entering the U.S. by land or sea was extended from January 2008 until June 2009 as a result of a major campaign by the travel industry.
 
The new requirements have led to a surge in passport applications.  The average time required to process and fulfill a passport application has risen from an estimated 4-to-6 weeks last year to 10-to-12 weeks today.
 
TIA has been urging all Americans to obtain a passport as soon as possible to avoid confusion when traveling to other countries.  Along with the Travel Business Roundtable, it created the GetAPassportNow.com website in December to provide a convenient location to find links to relevant government sites for those needing to get American, Canadian or Mexican passports.  To date, the site has received more than 3.5 million hits.
 
A detailed report of the findings of the new survey is available for sale from the Travel Industry Association at www.tia.org/researchpubs/travel_horizons. 
 
The Travel Industry Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $703 billion travel industry. TIA's mission is to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States. TIA is proud to be a partner in travel with American Express. For more information, visit www.tia.org.
 
Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell is America’s leading advertising and public relations agency serving travel industry clients and co-author of the widely-quoted National Travel Monitor™ with Yankelovich Inc.
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Contact:

Cathy Keefe
Travel Industry Association
202-408-2183
ckeefe@tia.org

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Also See: The Caribbean Hotel Association Calls for Joint Mission the U.S. Capital; Public and Private Sectors Would Marshal Resources to Advocate for Equal Application of Passport Extension / October 2006
United States Travelers to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean Will Soon Need Passports / April 2005
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