The Department of Homeland Security announced Friday that it will begin collecting fees on travellers from Visa Waiver countries beginning Sept. 8, 2010. Travellers will be charged a $14 fee when applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). A portion of the fee will go toward funding the Corporation for Travel Promotion, created by the 2009 Travel Promotion Act. “This is an important milestone in the implementation of the 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.”
Travel and tourism is the top services export for the United States, totaling $120 billion and supporting more than one million American jobs.
Overseas visitors spend an average of $4,000 per person per trip in the United States.
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.
President Obama signed the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (TPA) into law earlier this year, putting into place a new public – private partnership between the U.S. government and the nation’s travel and tourism industry. Under the TPA, Commerce Secretary Locke will appoint the board of directors for the Corporation for Travel Promotion. Commerce will work closely with the board to ensure the Corporation achieves its goals.