Alec Hills - May 4, 2009

The American plan to simplify the security system and waive the need for a visa for a number of countries has hit problems due to the fact that not all tourists know about it. Travellers are still unaware of the electronic system and the Americans still have the reputation of being extremely strict at border points and airports. In what was called the “9/11 act”, the U.S. tried to make things easier in the field of international relations and security. The horror stories of people being turned away at airports and border points, having travelled for hours were supposed to be a thing of the past. The idea of ESTA (Electronic System of Travel Authorization) was to make visitors under Visa Waiver Program (VWP) register in advance and ‘apply’ for entry into the United States electronically.A 72-hour registration deadline was set before entry into the USA for citizens of 35 countries in 3 continents under VWP. It seemed logical that if a passenger was going to be refused entry into the U.S. then it would be much better to be refused before travelling than at the final destination. The approval is also valid for 2 years, thus freeing people from bureaucratical nightmares for some time.However, according to the NBTA (National Business Travel Association), foreigners, along with some American officials, are still unaware of the new regulations and this leads to an array of confusion amongst passengers and officials in tourism sectors all over the world. Approximately 15% of VWP travelers fly today without a valid ESTA. If the system is to succeed, then it needs to be advertised and quickly. Related: USA to Become Visa Free?


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