The Travel Promotion Act AKA "The Tourist Tax"

BlogHer Original Post


The new law, which for the first time creates a national tourism advertising campaign targeted at foreign markets, is a boon for the industry after three years of hard lobbying efforts.

The up to $200 million to be spent on the effort each year will come from two sources: Up to $100 million collected in fees from foreign visitors who do not require visas and as much as $100 million in private dollars and in-kind donations from private business.Orlando Sentinel with a hat tip to Gadling

If you want to see me get all foamy around the mouth some time, ask me about tourism and diplomacy. You'll probably be sorry -- I get up on a soap box, start waving my hands around, and typically don't shut up until we all agree that travel is the way to world peace. Hey, it's a thing I have, work with me here. You'd think I'd be for a Travel Promotion Act, but not so, not so. And I'm not alone -- travel advocates are less than appreciative of the Obama administration program.

So now the Americans are planning a marketing drive, and want to fund it by charging visitors $10 to enter the country. President Obama passed a law on Friday that will come into effect at some point during the coming year.

If you’re confused, that makes two of us. How will charging people to enter a country encourage more visitors?

Sure, 10 bucks isn’t a huge amount of money – about £6.60 – especially given how much a holiday in the US will cost altogether, but it’s the little things which rile people, little things just like this one. -- Travel on Orange

Sorry to say but in a global competitive travel market, the US is not a friendly place to visit. It's expensive and it's a hassle. There are too many other countries who are much more welcoming. Let's just call this the Don't Bother to Travel to the US Act.-- AmericaBlog

From the travel marketing side, it looks like the Act is being lauded as a good thing...

The travel community celebrated a major victory when President Obama signed into law the first-ever national travel promotion and communications program to attract more international travelers to the U.S. The historic moment, commemorated during a White House signing ceremony, is a major step in addressing the country’s decline in attracting overseas visitors during the past decade.-- Travel Agent Central

... probably because it amounts to a giant marketing program for the entire US. While I support the idea of a tourism marketing plan for the US as a destination, I'm not delighted about the fact that it's partially funded by slapping fees on our visitors. I'm with the "Sure, it's only 10 bucks but..." crowd.

Charge people visiting America $10 so Americans can try to convince foreigners to come here so we can charge them $10. It’s bad enough that anyone wanting to come to America already have to fill out a questionnaire asking them if they’re a Nazi, terrorist or know anyone who might have a bomb laden pair of underwear. -- Hipster Travel Guide

"To us, we're saying we'd love to see more people visit the United States, but we're going to charge you more for the privilege of entering the country," he added. "We are in favor of increased tourism and visitation... but let's look at our priorities. We don't think that videos and billboards are necessarily a priority. Instead, we should be focusing on how to make customs and immigration easier for people." -- ABC News

I want people to empty their pockets when they get here, not before. I want barriers to entry to be lower, not higher. Yes, I'm a wimpy tree hugging bleeding heart liberal, go ahead and call names. But I also have a unshakable belief in the value of travel in making the world a better place. Let the people come, I say, and make them feel as welcome as possible, before they've even headed to the airport. Let's be good hosts and not stick our generous guests with the tab for everything, okay?

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