Travel News

Lawmakers Reach Agreement on $63 Billion FAA Bill

For the past several years Christopherson Business Travel has sent company representatives to Capitol Hill to lobby with the GBTA in support of the FAA re-authorization bill.

The FAA’s long-term operating authority expired in 2007 and has since had to limp along under short-term extensions and was even partially shut down for a time. But on Tuesday, February 1, 2012, an agreement was finally reached in Congress to approve $63 billion for the FAA through 2015.
Key portions of the bill include:

  • Funding authority for FAA’s Next Generation air traffic modernization program, which would update the air traffic control’s systems to GPS technology
  • Tightened subsidies for the Essential Air Service (a program which subsidizes air service to rural communities)
  • Eight daily slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport opened up for longer distance flights (which might possibly have been a selling point for some lawmakers looking for a “what’s in it for me” benefit)
  • A requirement that the Department of Transportation follow the same safety standards for the shipment of lithium batteries by air as those set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency
  • Requirements that the FAA provide military, commercial and privately-owned drones with expanded access to U.S. airspace currently reserved for manned aircraft

As of yesterday, Monday, February 6, 2012, the bill received final congressional approval and will now go to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Travel News

Streamlining Visa Applications and What That Might Mean for the Travel Industry & US Economy

In 2000, the top tourist destination in the world was Orlando, Florida, home of Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios, just to name a few attractions. But by 2010, Orlando was no longer number one, or even number five, or ten. Though it is still is one of the top destinations for Americans to visit, the number of foreign visitors has dropped significantly.
Orlando isn’t the only city to have seen such a decline. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, and San Francisco have all seen their inbound tourism drop off. But why? Well, part of the reason is because following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the USA made the process of getting a tourist visa much more difficult if the traveler wasn’t from one of the countries involved in the Visa Waiver program.
However, US President Barack Obama recently announced that he has ordered this process to be streamlined in an effort to make it less cumbersome, and therefore more appealing, for foreign tourists to visit the United States. It is estimated that by speeding up the process in countries like Brazil and China, inbound tourism will create up to one million new jobs over the next decade. Additionally it will increase tax revenues at all levels of government since inbound tourism generates more than $134 billion in revenue each year.
How will this happen? The first steps will include increasing the ability of embassies to process more applications in a shorter time frame. This will require additional investments in infrastructure as well as hiring more staff. Also Taiwan will be added to the list of countries in the Visa Waiver Program. Additional steps will also then be taken to make it less burdensome for applicants by eliminating many of the bureaucratic hurdles that currently slow the process down.
There are several additional articles that discuss this action and the impact it will have on both the travel industry and the US economy, but here are two I found informative via and