US tourism boss warns of chaos at airports if ‘misinformed’ Congress votes to amend travel bill

By Kelly Ranson
07/05/2024
Home » US tourism boss warns of chaos at airports if ‘misinformed’ Congress votes to amend travel bill

Tourism bosses in the US have warned travellers will have longer waits at airports and security could be threatened if Congress agrees to proposed amendments to a travel bill.

The proposed amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorisation bill would see an end to the use of facial recognition technology for non-PreCheck passengers – making the already lengthy immigration queues even longer.

Speaking at the US Travel Association’s IPW conference in Los Angeles, US Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman (pictured) said: “Our ambitions are constrained by excessively long wait times for visitor visas, often-lengthy waits at customs, and an air traffic control system that is challenged to meet demand. Achieving travel growth will require a sustained focus by Government and industry to address frictions and improve the process for travellers.”

Speaking when the plan for the amendment was announced last week, Geoff explained: “The proposed amendment to FAA reauthorisation is dangerous, costly and threatens to create chaos at America’s airports.

“Eliminating the use of biometrics – such as facial scans – will set America back by decades and only misinformed members of Congress are to blame.”

The US Travel Association calculates the amendment could result in an overall additional waiting time for travellers of 120 million hours next year.  

In 2023, the US welcomed a total of 67 million visitors, representing a 28% increase on 2022. By 2025, the UK market to the US is expected to hit pre-pandemic levels.

Brand USA Chief Executive Chris Thompson, who is stepping down from the role this summer after 12 years, said: “The state of our industry is strong. Not that we don’t have headwinds, but it is strong.”

Chris added the eyes of the world would be on the country due to events including the centennial of Route 66 and the FIFA World Cup in 2026, the 250th anniversary of the US in 2026 and the Olympic Games, which will be held in Los Angeles in 2028.

When it comes to trade activity, Brand USA will be focusing on hosting agent mega fams, updating its USA Discovery Progamme and pushing its US road trips campaign.

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