U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued the following statement on policy updates to the Visa Waiver Program announced Thursday by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson:
“This slate of policy adjustments are a reminder that the VWP is first and foremost a security instrument, and that an already-successful program can and should continue to evolve to make the country even stronger.
“The majority of the provisions in this policy package, including those emphasized by Secretary Johnson regarding passport security and air marshals on incoming overseas flights, align perfectly with VWP’s core purpose and will clearly bolster national security. We will continue to evaluate other measures—such as those seeking the development of passenger record databases and the screening of asylum-seekers—to see that they fit as squarely under the umbrella of VWP’s mission, desirable though they may be from a national-security standpoint.
“Though security should always be its first principle, it is well worth keeping in mind how the American economy and job creation both benefit when the VWP functions well—both because reliable security is the bedrock of a healthy travel sector, and because the VWP exponentially boosts the number of trustworthy, high-spending overseas visitors who are able to efficiently gain access to the U.S. That is why we urge congressional action on the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel, or JOLT Act, which will allow for the measured expansion of VWP to security allies who meet its many requirements.”