October 24, 2017

Congress Passes Hirono, Daines Bill to Make APEC Travel Card Permanent

Legislation Now Goes to President for Approval 

Over 200 Hawaii Residents Currently Benefit from the Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. House of Representatives passed Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Steve Daines’ (R-Mont.) bill to make permanent the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card Program.

The bill, which grants Americans and citizens from APEC nations access to fast-track processing lanes at Daniel K. Inouye Honolulu International Airport and airports across the U.S. and Asia-Pacific, was passed by the Senate last month and now goes to the President for his signature.

“The APEC Business Travel Card program has benefited hundreds of Hawaii residents by making it easier to travel and conduct business across a region critical to our local economy and jobs,” said Senator Hirono. “House passage reaffirms the importance of travel to our country’s engagement with the nations of the Asia-Pacific and I urge the President to sign this bill into law.”

“With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside of the United States – we must make every effort to expand markets to create new good-paying jobs,” said Senator Daines.

Over 200 Hawaii residents are active holders of the APEC Business Travel Card, which saves 43 minutes on average in airport wait times. Without Congressional action, U.S. Customs and Border Protection cannot issue cards to U.S. citizens after September 30, 2018.

The passage of S.504 comes in advance of the annual APEC Leaders’ Meeting in November.

S. 504 is supported by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce, U.S. Council for International Business, National Foreign Trade Council, U.S. Travel Association, Global Business Travel Association, American Hotel and Lodging Association, U.S.-China Business Council, U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, American Chamber of Commerce in the People's Republic of China, and the National Center for APEC.

“As the advocate for business in the State of Hawaii, the Chamber is pleased to see the passage of S. 504,” said Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President & CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara. “We appreciate the leadership of Senators Hirono and Daines in introducing this important bill which will help facilitate commerce between Hawaii and global markets.”

“Our congratulations go to Senator Hirono for shepherding this business-friendly legislation through Congress,” said George D. Szigeti, President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “The APEC Business Travel Cards Act is an initiative that makes travel and doing business between international partners and Hawaii companies a more convenient, efficient process. An objective of HTA is to foster new business opportunities for Hawaii travel partners throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Senator Hirono’s efforts to make the APEC Business Travel Card a permanent benefit for business travelers enhances the ability of Hawaii companies to broaden their reach into new markets.” 

“We're very pleased with Congressional approval of the APEC Business Travel Cards Act by a near-unanimous vote,” said Mufi Hanneman, President & CEO of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association. “Business travel has become an important part of Hawaii's visitor industry, and this latest initiative on the part of Senator Hirono and our delegation can only enhance our appeal and reputation as a business-friendly destination.  We're eagerly looking forward to the success of this latest effort to streamline travel between the United States and our partners in Asia and the Pacific.”

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