Hirono Led Bipartisan Senate Effort To Boost Tourism, Expedite Customs Process
Senator Mazie K. Hirono hailed an agreement reached this week between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Taiwan to facilitate its membership in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Global Entry Program, which will allow for expedited customs clearance for Taiwanese citizens visiting the United States and vice versa. In the absence of formal diplomatic relations, AIT and TECRO represent the U.S. and Taiwan respectively.
“Including Taiwan in the Global Entry program will benefit America’s economy and national security,” said Senator Hirono. “The Global Entry vetting process will allow the United States to better direct security resources to lesser known travelers, while giving participants the added convenience of expedited customs and immigration screening. Last year, Taiwanese visitors spent more than $31 million in Hawaii, and we can only expect Taiwanese visitor arrivals and spending to grow with the increased ease provided by the Global Entry program.”
Last October, Senator Hirono led a bipartisan coalition of 21 Senators to urge Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to approve Taiwan’s inclusion in the Global Entry program. The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and Hawaii Tourism Authority support Senator Hirono’s effort.
“We are pleased with Senator Hirono’s leadership in writing a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security in support of Taiwan’s inclusion in the Global Entry Program. The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii supports initiatives that encourage economic growth in our state, particularly with international markets that are projected to continue to grow in the immediate and long-term, with direct and indirect contributions to our GDP and employment,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.
"This is welcome news for Hawaii’s tourism industry. We appreciate Senator Hirono’s diligence to incorporate Taiwan into the Global Entry Program and improve the process for its travelers to visit the Hawaiian Islands. Taiwan and Hawaii already enjoy strong cultural connections, and this program helps strengthen those ties even more by making it easier for Taiwan’s citizens to come experience and interact with the people of Hawaii,” said George D. Szigeti, President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Global Entry participants must be pre-approved by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment. Participants may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States. The Global Entry program allows participants to complete expedited customs and immigration procedures using self-service kiosks at over 50 airports in the U.S., Canada, and select overseas locations, including Honolulu International Airport.
Taiwan is now on course to joining Canada, Mexico, Panama, Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, and South Korea as eligible for CBP’s Global Entry and other trusted traveler programs.