Travel industry hails REAL ID extension, says may need to be longer

Travel industry hails REAL ID extension, says may need to be longer
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The U.S. Travel Association applauded the administration for delaying the enforcement date of REAL ID requirements, which the group said would have likely caused greater economic uncertainty, but cautioned the extension may need to be longer.

Americans will now have until Oct. 1, 2021, to get Real ID Act compliant identification, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Thursday, which will be needed to board commercial flights, enter federal buildings or gain access to American nuclear plants.

“We applaud the administration for recognizing the challenges enforcing REAL ID requirements on travelers would present to what we hope will be a full and speedy economic recovery. We believe implementing REAL ID enforcement prior to full recovery would severely delay or reverse the travel industry’s ability to recover quickly from the coronavirus crisis,” U.S. Travel CEO Roger Dow wrote in a letter to DHS acting Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfDemocratic lawmakers demand government stop deporting unaccompanied children Hillicon Valley: Malicious emails spike amid coronavirus | Real ID deadline delayed one year | Trump officials to limit Huawei's chip access Travel industry hails REAL ID extension, says may need to be longer MORE

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If REAL ID were implemented today, an estimated 67,400 travelers would be turned away at airport security checkpoints on the first day, and more than 471,800 within the first week, according to a new analysis compiled in part by U.S. Travel. 

But, Dow also called for a further extension for more time for Americans to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Over the next 18 months people will be focused on building their lives back, not going to the DMV. The economic damage of coronavirus is already massive, and as we move toward a recovery phase it would be awful if the REAL ID deadline hits and creates yet another obstacle to people traveling,” U.S. Travel CEO Roger Dow said in a statement on Thursday. 

The REAL ID compliance rate was only at 35 percent as of February, according to the letter.

The letter also noted that the struggling travel industry will cost the economy $910 billion from a $355 billion decline in direct travel spending due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also estimates that 5.9 million travel industry jobs will be lost before May.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE recommended delaying the enforcement date earlier this week to ease crowding at Department of Motor Vehicle offices, telling reporters he would postpone it until October 2020.