by Peter Clerkin
These days, it seems like politicians cannot agree about anything. That’s because it’s convenient for the media to use a gridlock narrative as shorthand for the contrarian and obstinate behavior that defines how our elected representatives address a few big issues. However, a different, more nuanced picture emerges when one takes a closer look at the actual lawmaking process – the pursuit of positive change. Common Ground profiles members of opposing parties who are working together to advance issues important to hoteliers.
Strengthening and Updating the Visa Waiver Program
International inbound travel to the United States is critical to the travel and tourism industry. Approximately 1.2 million American jobs are directly supported by this segment of travel, and the average visitor spends $4,500 during their visits. Unfortunately, the process to obtain a visa is outdated and needlessly complicated, and much can be done to grow the number of international visitors and increase America’s share of the global travel market.
The Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act promotes international travel to the United States by expanding the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The legislation would bring U.S. visa regulations into the 21st century and make it easier for international visitors to travel in and out of the country while maintaining necessary security protocols. Currently, with the VWP citizens of 38 countries can travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa. The JOLT Act would bring more travelers to the U.S. by extending the VWP to select countries and streamlining the process for traveling to the U.S. and helping the nation claim a greater share of the global travel market.
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL)
First Elected: 2008
“As members of Congress, we want two things: to keep our constituents safe from harm, and to help them achieve the American Dream. The JOLT Act accomplishes both of those objectives by stimulating economic activity and improving national security. By updating outdated visa laws, we can drive tourism and job growth in our cities and assist the U.S. intelligence community with their mission to spot and stop terrorist threats.”
Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC)
First Elected: 2012
“The JOLT Act will enhance our economic competitiveness and strengthen national security by modernizing the VWP, which facilitates streamlined travel into the United States for pre-approved travelers from member countries. Expanding the VWP will support the U.S. travel industry, create American jobs, and bring more tourism dollars to South Carolina- all while bolstering our homeland security and counterterrorism efforts.”