Published on : Wednesday, April 5, 2017
The Trump administration is considering a plan to set up a much more adversarial system for deciding which non-citizens should be allowed into the United States will surely rile the US allies abroad and the travel industry at home,. Even if they are only coming into the country for a short stay, like a vacation, foreign nationals could be forced to disclose financial records and asked to hand over things like their social media account passwords and the contact records in their mobile phones. Travellers could also face interviews in which they are quizzed about their “ideology” and their attitude toward the US.
The programme, first reported on Tuesday morning, would keep President Trump’s campaign promise to impose “extreme vetting” on travellers entering the country as a means of keeping terrorists out of the US.
The stepped-up scrutiny of travellers would, reportedly, extend even to those coming from countries that are currently part of the visa waiver programme, which allows residents of certain countries to travel to the US for up to 90 days without first obtaining a visa.
But industry professionals described the move as potentially catastrophic for the travel and tourism business, a sector already suffering because the high value of the US dollar is deterring visitors from travelling to the country.
“It would obviously have a negative effect,” said Dr. Charles Goeldner, Professor Emeritus of Marketing and Tourism at the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder. “People would go elsewhere. You go where you’re welcome, and this casts an image of not being welcoming.”
It would be particularly hard on the tourism industry to apply the proposed requirements to countries that are currently part of the visa waiver programme, said Goeldner, who also sits on the board of the Travel and Tourism Research Association. “One of the goals of the visa waiver programme was to make it easy for these people to come into our country and boost our tourism industry, and it’s been a very successful programme.”
Others warned of the possibility of tit-for-tat retaliation against US travellers by the immigration enforcement services in other countries, making international travel less convenient for Americans. In the past, the US faced a diplomatic row with Brazil when that country temporarily imposed tougher entry requirements on Americans in response to similar action taken by the US against Brazilians.
However, some expected, it is also possible that some other countries, particularly those with economies relying on tourism dollars to a greater extent than the United States does, might be initially reluctant to deter Americans from visiting.