Long customs lines deterring international travelers from U.S., group says


(Kazuhiro Nogi -- AFP/Getty) (Kazuhiro Nogi — AFP/Getty)

Long wait-times are deterring international travelers from visiting the U.S., according to a recent study by a tourism advocacy group.

The U.S. Travel Association released a report on Tuesday that said 43 percent of travelers who have visited the U.S. say they would advise others to avoid visiting the country because of its entry process.

The group reported that two-thirds of travelers said the U.S. would be a more attractive destination if customs lines and wait times were shorter.

The association determined that “a greater focus on customer care, with a more efficient entry process, could yield substantial gains.”

The Department of Homeland Security has warned that wait times at airports could increase drastically under the government-wide spending cuts that took effect on March 1.

The Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently issued notices of furloughs for up to seven days and 14 days, respectively. Both agencies are divisions of Homeland Security.

“With sequester-mandated furloughs for U.S. Customs and Border [Protection] expected to go into effect April 1, entry wait-times and lines are only expected to increase,” the association said in a statement. “It is a fixable challenge that must be addressed.”

A short-term funding plan the Senate approved Wednesday would provide $7.5 billion to the TSA and nearly $12 billion to Customs and Border Protection to sustain current staffing levels for those agencies.

The House is expected to vote on the legislation Thursday.

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Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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