TSA Travel Guitar has reported a record-breaking volume of visa-free arrivals and cancellations in the past year, raising concerns about the health and safety of its customers.
Travel Guitar, which has its headquarters in San Diego, said it had more than 5,000 cancellations during that time, up from just under 500 in 2016.
That was due in large part to increased travel by Americans on visas and other waivers, according to the company.
But the number of cancellations from Americans is down from the same time last year.
Last year, Travel Guitar said its U.S. customers had about 2.5 million visa-waiver cancellations, compared with 1.6 million in 2016, according the company’s annual report.
The company said it has also seen a drop in the number and severity of travelers from China and Japan, the two countries that have banned travel by Chinese citizens.
It said it believes that a combination of improved security and a broader understanding of visa rules could help reduce the numbers of cancellational visas, which are a key part of visa approvals.
Travel Guitar’s executive vice president of international operations, David Capp, said in an interview that the company is seeing an increase in Chinese tourists who are coming to the United States on waivers and are coming for business reasons.
“They are looking for the same kind of job opportunities as Americans,” Capp said.
Travel has been struggling to maintain an effective customer base after a spate of visa cancellations by Chinese nationals, a change that led to a wave of cancellation orders from Travel Guitar customers, according a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in federal court.
Travel said its numbers are in line with other major travel agencies and its own internal data, which showed that the number dropping from 2016 was mostly due to a drop of visa waiver cancellations.
Capp said he doesn’t think that is the case.
“Our numbers are up, but we are not seeing the same drop in cancellations as we would like,” Capps said.
“It is just not the case that our numbers are going down as fast as some other companies.”
“We are seeing a real uptick in business travelers, so I think that indicates that a significant portion of our customers are now on visas,” he said.CAPP said the increased demand is helping to drive up the number that are eligible for a visa waiver and is “creating a very competitive market for us to compete with.”
Travel Guitar has also said that the more people it can help get through its secure visa process, the better it is at serving its customers and has been trying to improve its customer service.
But Travel Guitar is not alone in its concerns about its business.
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission charged Travel Guitar with misleading customers about its ability to help them renew visas and was looking into whether the company violated federal antitrust laws.