JOLT Act Receives Bi-Partisan Sponsorship

H.R. 1354 — the Jobs Originating through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act — has garnered 150 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, roughly split between the two parties, the U.S. Travel Association announced today.

A bipartisan effort, the JOLT Act originally was introduced in 2012 by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), but failed to come for a vote in that Congress. Reps. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) therefore re-introduced the legislation last spring. If passed, the bill — which calls for visa reforms that would increase international travel to the United States — could increase attract as many as 600,000 more visitors to the United States, add more than $7 billion to the U.S. economy and support more than 40,000 additional American jobs.

“Huge numbers of lawmakers from both parties recognize the clear economic benefits of promoting inbound international travel to the U.S.,” U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement. “The minor policy adjustments in the JOLT Act have the potential to pay huge dividends through the visitor dollars that will subsequently flow into the U.S., with zero downside.”

According to U.S. Travel, key provisions of the JOLT Act would:

• Expand the Visa Waiver Program that enables international travelers from approved countries to enter the U.S. without a visa;

• Expand the Global Entry program that expedites entry for preapproved, low-risk international travelers;

• Mandate expedited visa processing and reduced visa wait times for travelers who wish to visit the United States;

• Facilitate the use of secure videoconferencing to conduct visa interviews, which would provide increased access to a U.S. visa for potential travelers; and

• Encourage more travel from Canada.

A recent study by U.S. Travel — “Visa Waiver Works: Expanding the U.S. Visa Waiver Program Brightens the American Economy and Safeguards Security” — bolstered the JOLT Act by showing that spending by visitors from South Korea has increased 52 percent since that country was admitted to the VWP in 2008.

“One of the best parts from a legislative standpoint is that travel promotion is an endeavor with bipartisan appeal,” Dow said. “We therefore hope that leaders in the House find a legislative vehicle to pass the provisions of the JOLT Act this year.”

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