The top United States tourism officials want the US lawmakers to change the name of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). In a bid to boost tourism and travel, tourism officials have suggested a marketing tactic common in the business world, a rebrand of the VWP.
The rebranding is just part of a bigger plan as an attempt to boost tourism in the US, which is swiftly falling in the list of the world’s most popular destinations.
The U.S. Travel Association is also pushing for the expansion of the program with nine other countries, including Poland, Argentina, Israel, and Brazil.
However, they worry that lawmakers may reject the expansion of the program due to security concerns. That is why the trade group for the nation’s travel industry is suggesting a new tougher-sounding name, the Security Travel Partnership.
“A lot of folks see the word ‘waiver’ and think of an overzealous third-base coach waving folks into the country,” says Jonathan Grella, executive vice president at the U.S. Travel Association.
“We hope rebranding can give us a fresh start to allow the program to be reconsidered on its merits,” he says.
In July last year, US Congress representatives, Michael Quigley and Tom Rice proposed renaming the VWP to the Secure Travel Partnership Program, through the JOLT Act. The JOLT Act is a bipartisan attempt to increase national security, reform the old US visa laws as well as to bolster international tourism to the US, thus making it possible to create new jobs.
The Visa Waiver Program currently permits the nationals of 38 countries to enter the US without a visa. The program was created in 1986 to improve security for visitors. The 38 countries under the VWP are obliged to grant the US with reciprocity of visa-free travel for its citizens.
It is estimated that around 22 million people traveled to the US through the Visa Waiver Program only in 2016, which generated more than $90 million for the US economy.