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Saturday, March 6th, 2021

Bill targets international tourism, national security

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Reps. Tom Rice (R-SC) and Mike Quigley (D-IL) recently introduced legislation designed to enhance international tourism to America while improving national security.

The Jobs Originating through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act would also reform outdated visa laws, create jobs, and rename the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to the Secure Travel Partnership Program. The renaming effort, Rice and Quigley said, better reflects the mutual benefits shared by America and partner countries.

In 2016, 22 million people traveled to the United States from VWP countries, accounting for 59 percent of overseas arrivals to America, according to officials.

Travelers from those countries generated more than $90 billion for the economy, accounting for 44 percent of travel exports to all overseas countries.

In order to protect the homeland and ensure VWP countries adhere to U.S. security standards, the JOLT Act requires the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to enforce security requirements that were previously considered discretionary.

“The JOLT Act will enhance our economic competitiveness and strengthen national security by modernizing the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which facilitates streamlined travel into the United States for pre-approved travelers from member countries,” Rice said. “Expanding the VWP will support the U.S. travel industry, create American jobs and bring more tourism dollars to South Carolina- all while bolstering our homeland security and counterterrorism efforts.”

Quigley said legislators want to keep constituents safe from harm and help them achieve the American Dream.

“The JOLT Act accomplishes both of those objectives by stimulating economic activity and improving national security,” he said. “By updating outdated visa laws, we can drive tourism and job growth in our cities and assist the U.S. intelligence community with their mission to spot and stop terrorist threats.”