New U.S. entry fee for visitors from Visa Waiver countries

Written by kvfawcett on October 18, 2010 – 11:26 pm -

As of September 8, 2010, travelers from the 39 countries that qualified visa waiver program will have to fork over $14 when applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

The Department of Homeland Security announced the supplemental charge this last week. A portion of the visa fee will go toward funding the Corporation for Travel Promotion, created by the 2009 Travel Promotion Act.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said, “Creating a tourism promotion program to encourage international visitors to vacation in America will help spur economic growth and create more jobs.” Not everyone agrees with this new approach.

But, in the short run, American tourism business expects to see a windfall from the tax and a path to more promotion for the USA overseas. Foreign visitors spend an average of $4,000 per person per trip in the United States and tourism revenues total $120 billion and support more than one million American jobs.

President Obama signed the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (TPA) into law earlier this year, implementing a new public – private partnership between the U.S. government and the nation’s travel and tourism industry. Oxford Economics estimates the travel promotion program under the Travel Promotion Act will generate $4 billion in new visitor spending and 40,000 new jobs.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the program will reduce the federal budget deficit by $425 million in the next 10 years.

Will this discourage tourists from these countries from coming to the U.S.? And how soon do you think it will be before American travelers will have to ante up money to enter these 39 countries? After all, fair is fair. Or, will some of these countries feel that the influx of funds from American travelers is so essential for their economic well-being that they won’t ask U.S. tourists to fork over cash?

Posted in Consumer Traveler |