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Travel World Reacts to Trump’s Expanded ‘Travel Ban’



The expansion of the Trump Administration’s travel ban has the travel world concerned.

The administration previously announced that it was adding six more countries to the list – Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country – although this particular move has a twist. These new six countries are on the list because people are mostly looking to establish residency in the U.S., not just visit.

An official said the new measures were the result of failures by the six countries to meet US security and information-sharing standards.

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“These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters on Friday.

Still, the travel world has trepidations.

“It is important to note that the new policy primarily relates to those seeking to immigrate to the U.S. as residents—as opposed to temporary visitors—and broadly describing it as a ‘travel ban’ isn’t wholly accurate,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow.

“Despite the label, the fact is the words carry weight. While the countries affected by the expanded policy represent a very small fraction of visitation to the United States, restricting entry to the U.S. carries a negative perception that threatens the reputation of our country as an attractive and welcoming destination for global business and leisure travelers.”

The United States Tour Operators Association has been tracking the situation since Trump first instituted a travel ban in 2017.

“While this announcement is not a total ban on travel, it hits particularly close to home as Tanzania and Myanmar have both been Associate Members of ours over the last few years,” the USTOA said in a statement. “Safety and security is paramount for USTOA and our members. Additionally, it is imperative that we strike the right balance between ensuring the safety and security of our country while continuing to preserve it as a welcoming destination.

“We will continue to advocate in Washington DC to the appropriate lawmakers and federal agencies that the free movement of people and USTOA’s Open Border Policy is crucial to ensuring that the travel and tourism industry. Our industry is an essential economic driver for the U.S. economy and ensuring its continued growth is imperative.”

Zane Kerby, President and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), said he, too, is also closely monitoring the developments.

“While this most recent order has far fewer direct impacts on travel, the 2017 travel ban injected a great deal of uncertainty into the travel industry, from disruption to travelers to or from the countries flagged by the Administration to fear about how Americans will be received abroad to aborted business and leisure trips,” he said.

“Our research indicates that 30% of travelers who plan to take a personal trip are concerned that changing regulations in obtaining a visa will affect their travel. ASTA will keep a close eye on these recent developments with an eye toward preventing negative impacts our members’ businesses. We urge the Administration to expeditiously set clear rules of the road so that travel industry stakeholders can serve their clients, that travel disruptions are kept to a minimum and that the traveling public can maintain confidence in an industry vital to our nation’s economy.”

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U.S. State Department Stops Issuing Passports Amid COVID-19



The U.S. Department of State has scaled back its Passport Agency operations and will no longer be issuing new passports in view of the situation surrounding the still-escalating COVID-19 pandemic.

Travel + Leisure pointed out that the release of this directive in late March coincided with the State Department’s issuance of a Level 4 travel advisory, which warns Americans to avoid all international travel and instructing those outside U.S. borders to return home immediately or risk being stranded abroad for an indefinite period of time.

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The Passport Divisions’ recent policy change mentioned that those who had already applied to obtain a new passport or renew an existing one prior to March 20, 2020, will not have their orders affected. The agency said that it would honor its commitment to fulfilling those expedited-service orders placed on or before March 19 within two to three weeks, door-to-door.

Moving forward, passports will be available only to persons facing qualifying life-or-death emergencies, such as serious illnesses, injuries or deaths in their immediate family, which require them to travel outside the United States within 72 hours’ time.

Such persons will need to not only provide their passport application and supporting documents, and proof of planned international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket or itinerary), but also proof of the life-or-death circumstance. This might include documents like a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional, and must be translated into English.

To make an appointment at a passport center in the event of a life-or-death emergency, one must call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a. m. and 5:00 p.m., or Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST); or call (202) 647-4000 outside of regular business hours.

No indication was given as to when the State Department would again begin accepting passport applications. As is now the case among most organizations that are attempting to respond to the continually evolving pandemic, its future plans remain up in the air. The announcement only stated, “The status of our operations may change quickly. We will update this notice as the status changes.”

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