As hard as it seems to fathom, the United States has never thrown money into luring international tourists. Not at a federal level anyway. Oh sure, various cities, even shopping malls, and especially theme parks have run individual campaigns, but all that is about to change… Tourism to America has slipped in recent years – ooh wonder why? (thinking 9-11, global recession, war, fattening food) – and it’s got so bad the President has stepped in.
What he’s decided – thanks to much lobbying by the newly formed US Travel Association – is to levy $10 on each international visitor who comes in on a free visa waiver (that’s us kiwis) once every 2 years to build up a slush fund for global marketing. What we don’t know yet is when this new Travel Promotion Act will be implemented and how and when we’ll start paying. I’m picking it makes sense to charge us when we sign up every 2 years for the electonic visa waiver (ESTA). Of course those who pay for expensive visas (like me cos I’m officially “working”, I’ll have you know when I travel the length and breadth of the country to blog for you, dear reader).
I’ll keep you posted when it’ll take place. But I’m thinking you’ll hardly notice – unlike all those dreadful departure taxes we used to pay Auckland Airport and still get crippled with every time we fly home from Sydney.