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Hirono pushing visa waiver for Hong Kong travelers

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 11, 2013 at 6:41 pm •  Published: April 11, 2013

HONOLULU (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono is pushing a plan to add Hong Kong to a list of places where tourists can qualify for visa waivers when visiting the United States.

Hirono said Thursday that the change would be small, but would have a major effect on Hawaii's economy.

"By fixing the visa waiver process for visitors from Hong Kong, we can make it easier for thousands of tourists from this region to come to Hawaii," Hirono said.

Hirono says people from Hong Kong can visit more than 140 countries and territories right now without getting visas, but not the United States.

Hirono's office says Republican U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah is the lead sponsor from his party on the legislation in the Senate.

It's not immediately clear how the lawmakers plan to introduce the measure, whether as its own bill or as an amendment in another piece of legislation.

Currently, 37 countries participate in the visa waiver program, including South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and France.

Travelers from visa waiver countries can stay in the United States for 90 days or less without a visa when they meet certain requirements.