On the eve of new passport requirements going into effect for persons traveling to the U.S. by air from Western Hemisphere countries, travel industry officials say a new website aimed at helping educate travelers about the new rules has been a big success.
GetAPassportNow.com, which launched six weeks ago and provides links to U.S., Canadian and Mexican passport information, has received more than 1.2 million hits and 50,000 unique visitors, according to Roger J. Dow, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Travel Industry Association.
“Our message continues to be that if you want to travel to or from the United States, get a passport now,” Dow said. “We will continue to work closely with the State Department and Department of Homeland Security to help inform people about the new passport requirements going into effect for persons traveling by plane, and the future requirements for those entering the U.S. by car or on a cruise ship.
“Our aim is to spread the word to help people avoid confusion and make their travel worry-free,” he said.
GetAPassportNow.com was created after the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) was revised by Congressional action last September.
WHTI requires all air travelers to the U.S., including Americans returning from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, to now have a passport or other secure document. In addition, all travelers by land and sea must meet this requirement by an unspecified deadline not later than June 1, 2009.
Just 27 percent of all Americans currently have a passport, while 40 percent of Canadians have the official government-issued travel document.
GetAPassportNow.com explains the new passport requirements, cites the deadlines, and provides links where citizens of the U.S., Canada and Mexico can get information about and applications for their respective passports. It is intended to supplement efforts by the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security to inform travelers about the new rules.
TIA and the Travel Business Roundtable (TBR) have worked closely with Congress and the Administration to ensure that the new rules provide enhanced security for travelers with minimal disruption.