Today, I testified on behalf of GBTA at a hearing held by the Homeland Security Committee’s House Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security. The purpose of the hearing, Addressing The TSA Checkpoint: The PreCheck Program and Airport Wait Times, was to examine both TSA, GAO, and private sector stakeholder perspectives relating to the TSA PreCheck program, as well as the agency’s airport wait times mitigation strategy going into the busy Summer travel season.
It cannot be overstated how important travel is to the U.S. economy… or any economy. As we always say, ‘Business travel drives business growth’. Companies invest in business travel to drive new business, create new jobs and build shareholder value.
As the busy summer travel season ramps up, GBTA is concerned past travel problems in screening as well as past statements and policies on foreign visitation will impact the rest of 2018 and beyond. The nation’s businesses spent $424 billion to send travelers out on the road for 514.4 million domestic business trips including roughly 144 million round trip flights. Because of this mass of travelers, GBTA has made secure and efficient travel a key platform of GBTA’s legislative policy and has been a supporter of TSA PreCheck since its first iteration as Registered Traveler.
Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John Katko (R-NY) asked about cooperation from TSA and areas for improvement and growth. Our interaction with TSA has been terrific, but the reality is some of these areas we must accelerate, particularly the marketing of the programs to corporations.
Rep. Katko also added that PreCheck should not be used to manage traffic at airports, especially under the guise of risk-based security.
Regarding managed inclusion, GBTA believes its continued practice undermines the impetus to enroll and calls into question the entire premise of the program, which is prescreening travelers who through background checks have been identified as “safe” before they arrive at the airport. It’s time to finally put an end to this practice, which confers all the benefits of PreCheck without requiring any of the burdens.
TSA PreCheck cannot be the sole answer to long security lines. Accurate travel numbers, well thought out policies and solid analysis of historical data and forecasts, like the “GBTA BTI™ Outlook – Annual Global Report & Forecast” are key to TSA’s ability to adequately staff checkpoints.
Ranking Chair Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) asked what message do the President’s policies and rhetoric send international visitors.
We are at a time of conflicting and sometimes seemingly contradictory views on how the business travel marketplace is trending – and what the future holds. On one hand, as lower corporate tax rates are pushed forward and business regulations are rolled back, some would argue that business travel is healthy. But other underlying factors have a decidedly more negative impact on the future of business travel including trade policy renegotiation, terrorism, travel and immigration bans, sanctions, electronics bans and geopolitical tensions.
GBTA projected a loss of over $1.3 billion in overall travel-related expenditures in the U.S. in 2017 including hotels, food, rental cars and shopping expenses that inbound travelers would have spent due to global uncertainty driven by current administration policies.
We have an obligation as a country to address the issues and to give companies that are driving the economy the support they need.
Watch the full hearing.