U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued the following statement praising Congress' passage of an omnibus funding package that includes provisions enhancing the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
"Today Congress acted to provide much-needed fiscal certainty for both the public and private sector going into next year, for which we thank members in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle.
"The entirety of Congress should be especially praised for the package's inclusion of sensible enhancements to the VWP taken from the earlier reform bill passed by the House. Policymakers rightfully called for a hard look at the VWP following stepped-up terror threats against the West, and have opted for a more constructive approach to improving the program.
"By adopting the provisions in Rep. Miller's bill for the final omnibus package, Congress has demonstrated that it is indeed capable of bi-partisan, common-sense approaches to national security that embrace freedom over fear. Knee-jerk responses to terrorist threats in the past sometimes hurt the U.S. economy and America's reputation among international travelers, and we are encouraged to see our lawmakers avoided that path this time around.
"The VWP is an already-strong program that generates $190 billion in annual economic output for the U.S., strengthens diplomatic ties with our allies and has consistently proven an indispensable security tool. The travel community welcomes these amendments that will make our nation safer while keeping America's doors open to international visitors.
"Our sincere gratitude and congratulations go to House and Senate leadership for brokering the passage of measures that keep the best parts of the program intact, and to Rep. Miller and Chairman McCaul for introducing this option on the House floor. We appreciate that our industry's input was sought throughout deliberations, and will continually work with Congress and the Obama Administration to pass travel policy that works.