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JOLT Act: Coalition Encourages Passage of Visa-Waiver Bill

By / Jun 16, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

With support rising in Congress, the Discover America Partnership is launching a fresh push in favor of the JOLT Act, a bill it says could help rekindle interest in international travel to the United States by making visa-less travel easier.

The world of business—in its many shapes and forms—wants to see things get a little easier for people traveling to the United States.

Last week, the Discover America Partnership (DAP) launched a fresh effort to get Congress to pass the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act, a bill that would expand the U.S. State Department’s Visa Waiver Program to other countries.

The U.S. has consistently fallen short in capturing our global market share of worldwide travelers.

Groups taking part in the effort reflect a variety of industry interests, including the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), National Retail Federation, National Restaurant Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Hotel and Lodging Association, and International Franchise Association. A number of secondary DAP partners, including the Entomological Society of America, NYSE Euronext, and Ultimate Fighting Championship, also are pushing for changes.

The Visa Waiver Program, established in 1986, allows citizens of 38 countries to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. (Chile is the most recent addition to the list.) Such waivers can be used for business or tourism but do not allow permanent access to the country for employment.

The JOLT Act, introduced to the House last year by Rep. Joseph Heck (R-NV), would add countries to the program—including Brazil, Croatia, Israel, and Poland—as well as expand resources for international travelers. The bill [PDF] would expand the Global Entry Program, which has proved successful in recent years, and includes measures to reduce wait times for obtaining visas from the State Department.

“Travel to the U.S. is our country’s number one services export, contributing nearly $181 billion to the economy and supporting more than 1.2 million American jobs,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a news release. “But the U.S. has consistently fallen short in capturing our global market share of worldwide travelers.”

DAP touts the support of 160 members of Congress—roughly split between both major parties.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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