Peninsula tourism industry takes wait and see attitude toward 2008 passport requirement
by BRIAN GAWLEY
Peninsula Daily News
Port Angeles, WA - North Olympic Peninsula businesses dependent on tourism to and from Victoria are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward a new Bush administration proposal to require passports beginning in 2008.
``Please understand that at this point these are proposed changes only. If they are enacted into law, they won't go into effect until 2008,'' said Victoria Express owner Jack Harmon.
The Victoria Express passenger ferry runs between Port Angeles and Victoria from two to four times daily between May 28 and September 25.
The MV Coho car and passenger ferry makes the same run between two and four times daily year-round.
Harmon said international ferry operators are working with the State Department and federal lawmakers to ensure fairness and a smooth transition, if the proposal announced Tuesday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is approved.
North Olympic Peninsula residents won't see any changes in identification requirements this year, Harmon said.
Higher costs to visit
MV Coho general manager Wayne Barrett said the entire international tourism industry is wondering what is going to happen next.
``I don't think [the new requirements] are going to a plus for the tourism industry,'' he said.
Passports can cost as much as $82 for those younger than 16 and $97 for those older, plus the cost of photographs, Barrett said.
``So for a family of four or five, I don't know how many people will pay that much to go to Canada,'' he said.
Feds will require passports on border crossing
Peninsula News Network
In a move that could have far-reaching impacts in border communities like Port Angeles, the Bush Administration is announcing that it will require travelers to have U-S passports to enter the country from Canada. And Canadians will also have to show their passports if they want to cross the border.
Details of the change were just emerging on Tuesday, but administration officials were being quoted as saying the passport requirement will be effective in 2008. It’s all part of the federal plan to tighten border security to catch terrorists.
The State Department was expected to say that U.S. citizens will need a passport, or “other valid travel document” to re-enter the country. That could be something like the frequent travel cards which have been used by people going back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico on a regular basis.
Up until now, tourists, business people and others entering the country at ports like Port Angeles only had to show a driver’s license, or other government-issued card with photo ID. The requirement is all part of the new rules to bolster intelligence about terrorism that were given Congressional approval last year.
But in the long run, the passport requirement could have a profound effect on crossings like Port Angeles, where hundreds of thousands of tourists use as an access point to Canada, and especially on field trips and band trips where local students have traditionally traveled to Victoria on day trips. Many of the those travelers and students have been casual travelers, who frequently walk aboard the Coho without advance planning, or the expense of a acquiring a passport because they typically don’t travel internationally.
Anonymous administration sources have told the Associated Press the new rules would apply first to Mexico and the Caribbean, and then to Canada, but all areas would be covered by January of 2008.