This is the time of year when road traffic decreases significantly as summer vacations begin in earnest. This is also the time of year when international air traffic increases thanks to summer travel. In fiscal year 2014, CBP welcomed more than 107 million international air travelers. This is an increase of more than 4.5 percent over fiscal year 2013. In fact, during the past five years, the United States saw an increase of more than 15 million annual international travelers.
This growth in international travel supported about 280,000 new American jobs and generated spending to the tune of $220 billion in this country in 2014 alone.
Last week I spoke at the travel industry’s annual meeting, IPW, in Orlando to help kick off the summer travel season. This year CBP received high marks from the U.S. Travel Association, Brand USA, and the Department of Commerce. That’s because, CBP, along with legislative and stakeholder partners, has made a concerted effort to improve the international travel experience for both U.S. citizens and foreign travelers alike. With flagship trusted traveler programs like Global Entry, Nexus, and Sentri combined with new initiatives like Automated Passport Control, Mobile Passport Control, I-94 automation and the expansion of Preclearance, all travelers are able to experience more efficient and friendlier environment when arriving to the U.S.
These initiatives provide a positive traveler-centric experience. They are key to CBP’s more efficient, risk-based strategies to successfully execute our dual mission of achieving the most secure border while facilitating lawful travel. These programs allow CBP officers to focus on the security aspect of their jobs- automating the administrative tasks of the entry process and facilitating the entry of low risk or ‘trusted’ travelers.
Earlier this year, the Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce submitted a report to the President, establishing a new national goal on the international arrivals process. This goal is to provide a best-in-class international arrivals experience while maintaining the highest standards of national security. The goal set forth 17 airport-specific action plans and establishes a U.S. Government task force.
Through these efforts, we look forward to building the “airport of the future” and achieving the President’s goal of welcoming 100 million visitors by 2021.
Welcome to the United States!