A recent proposal from
the Department of Homeland
Security requiring U.S. citizens to carry passports when flying
home from Canada has some tourism officials up in arms. The plan
would take effect Jan. 1, 2007.
Americans currently need only a photo ID to travel, by any
means, to and from Canada. By 2008, per the proposal, a passport
will be necessary even for those driving through border crossings.
The measure also applies to travel to and from Bermuda, the
Caribbean and South America.
“This proposal will disrupt the travel, tourism and
hospitality trade on both sides of the border,” said Tony Pollard,
president of the Ottawa, Ontario-based Hotel Association of
Scott Allison, vice president of sales and marketing, Marriott
Hotels of Canada, noted that only about 20 percent of Americans
hold passports and predicted meeting planners “will ask themselves,
‘Who knows how many of our members have passports or how long it
will take for them to get one? It makes more sense to book in
Atlanta or Scottsdale.’”
On the planner side, however, Jim Ihler, director of marketing
programs for Columbia, Mo.-based Shelter Insurance Companies, said
if attendees don’t have their papers for a meeting in Canada,
“We’ll just say to them, ‘Hey, you need to get a passport.’”
The controversial measure will undergo several months of
scrutiny prior to becoming law.