August 01, 2007

Last week, both the House and Senate approved legislation aimed at strengthening the nation's security, which will have an impact on the travel industry. The Travel Industry Association of America and the National Business Travel Association, among other organizations, have voiced support for the legislation. The act's travel-related provisions include: improving the entry experience for foreign visitors at the United States' top 20 international airports by enhancing "queue management," offering additional services to travelers, and adding at least 200 additional Customs and Border Protection officers; enhancing the Visa Waiver Program to facilitate easier but more secure travel for business travelers; launching of an International Registered Traveler program, following the success of the domestic program; and further review of the delayed Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which will require citizens of the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Bermuda to have a passport or other specified identification cards to cross U.S. borders.

A $1.1 billion plan to build a new performing arts center, new arena for the Orlando Magic and renovate the Citrus Bowl stadium in Orlando, Fla., was passed last Thursday by the Orange County Board of Commisioners. The project, the largest public building project in Central Florida history, will be paid for with a mix of private funds and taxes. Amendments to be voted on next week call for the two new venues to be "green" and for the Orlando Magic to build five community gyms.