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All Belgian visitors to US to be fingerprinted

Published on 05/04/2004

5 April 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgian visitors to America will be systematically photographed and fingerprinted when the US introduces tough new border controls later this year, Washington has confirmed.

The new security rules will come into force in September and will apply not just to Belgians but to visitors from 27 countries, most of them close allies of the United States.

At present many of these countries are members of the so-called visa waiver scheme and do not even have to have visas if they visit the US for less than 90 days.

At the weekend Asa Hutchinson, border and transportation under-secretary at the United States’ newly created Homeland Security Department, said the move was a necessary part of Washington’s self-styled fight against terrorism.  

But US travel operators were quick to condemn the move.

“While we appreciate the rationale for the federal government’s action, TIA is nevertheless greatly disappointed and very concerned about negative reactions in key inbound tourism markets from western Europe, Japan and other important visa waiver countries,” said William Norman, head of the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA).

UK tour operators were similarly unimpressed.

“These new moves clearly will not help to encourage UK citizens to travel to the USA, and we would urge very strongly that the American authorities reconsider their actions,” said a spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

The full list of visa-waiver countries is: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news