Tuesday, January 24, 2006

IAH to become one of two "model" ports of entry

From the Washington Post last week:
A Push for a Friendlier Welcome

Washington-Dulles and Houston international airports will become "model" ports of entry under a pilot U.S. program to present a warmer welcome to foreign visitors who face post-Sept. 11, 2001, security changes, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced yesterday.

The program will provide customized video messages and "friendly greeters" to assist travelers entering the United States, Rice said. ...

"Think of when you go to Disney World," said Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the Travel Industry Association of America, which pushed for the initiative with backing from Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. "They manage the lines, you feel welcome and all that. You can accomplish both security and have a welcome mat out."

Confronted by sharp declines in foreign visitors, decreased enrollment in U.S. schools by foreign students and less cross-border traffic after the terrorist attacks, Chertoff and Rice appeared at the State Department in a joint bid to repackage the government's sometimes discordant efforts to increase security and speed the movement of people and goods.

Researchers, economists and business leaders have warned that efforts to stop terrorists from entering the country have harmed broader U.S. interests. Dow's group said the nation's share of international travel has dropped from 9 percent to 6 percent in 10 years, with each percentage point valued at $12 billion in spending and 150,000 jobs.
Not much to say: kinda cool. Should help, especially after some of the complaints by international attendees to the Offshore Technology Conference last year.

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