US association champions freedom of reciprocal travel arrangements at IPW in New Orleans, after negative coverage on both sides of the Atlantic
US Travel president and chief executive Roger Dow has told TTG a breakdown of the visa waiver programme would be ‘disastrous’ for all concerned.
Last year 52% of all overseas visitors to the US came through the visa waiver programme, which ensures reciprocal travel between EU countries and the US.
EU deliberations about the long-term viability of the programme, are currently centered on the exclusion of five countries, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Croatia, with conclusions set to be made public in the first week of July. Dow explained: “For the EU it’s all or nothing, it seems.”
Dow said: “Hopefully the EU will do the smart thing, stick with the waiver programme, and work through the process to get those five countries in. The implications of changing the status quo are enormous for the US and Europe.”
The US Travel Association was keen to make its standpoint clear in the wake of negative US media coverage about the visa waiver scheme. “A few ill-informed members of the media and US congress have called to shut down the programme entirely, but with active engagement with lawmakers, we are confident policy and diplomacy will win through in the end.”
David Scowsill, president and chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council echoed Dow’s validation of the scheme. “We fully support freedom to travel and that’s at risk right now. We have warned about government overreactions to these incidents, such as the San Bernadino shooting last November when minor adjustments were made to the visa waiver programme, and we will continue to urge governments not to overreact and stay the course.”