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Sjoerd Sep 9th, 2009 03:05 AM

Tourists to the USA to be taxed $10

I don't know if this new bill that is probably going to be passed in the US Senate today got much publicity in the USA, but here in Europe it has already produced a lot of (bad) news coverage. In short, to increase tourism to the US every visitor on the ESTA (visa waiver) program (most Europeans, Japanese and a few others) will be taxed $10 for their ESTA visa to the US.
This must be the first time that people believe that by taxing travel you will attract more travellers. What a ridiculous idea.

Gretchen Sep 9th, 2009 03:30 AM

Seems like we pay a departure tax when leaving a lot of countries.

tekwriter Sep 9th, 2009 05:23 AM

Only $10? That's the price of a cafe creme on the Champs Elysee! Well, since Americans' heads explode at the thought of higher taxes on ourselves, we might as well tax rich visitors. Don't worry, you'll more than make it up with the exchange rate and the cheap blue jeans and CDs, not to mention free healthcare back home.

BarbaraS Sep 9th, 2009 06:04 AM

Seems like I had to pay for my visa to Australia. Wasn't a big deal to me.

doug_stallings Sep 9th, 2009 07:48 AM

The U.S. as a country does not currently do any travel promotion, unlike most other countries in the world. You won't, for example, find a U.S. National Tourist Office, as you will for France, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, etc. To get funding for such a promotional effort, there has to be some kind of revenue. One possibility would be for the tourist industry to band together and fund the project (unlikely since they haven't done it so far); another idea is this tourist tax.

Frankly, it seems more palatable to me than the onerous "greenhouse" tax the U.K. is now beginning to impose on airline fees. And it's a lot less in terms of cost for the average traveler. Visas to the U.S. are ridiculously expensive for those who must buy them, and I wish the government would do something about that. However, this strikes me as a very modest and moderate step in the right direction.

doug_stallings Sep 10th, 2009 05:24 AM

So the Travel Promotion Act was passed by the Senate. It now goes to the House of Representatives. Given the lopsided victory in the Senate, it seems likely that this will become a law.

Sjoerd Sep 10th, 2009 05:31 AM

Wel, perhaps history will repeat itself: :-)

Foreign News: Visa Fees
Monday, May. 27, 1929

Each U. S. citizen going to France this summer will save $8—the price of three good dinners or 33 martini cocktails—through an agreement signed last week by the U. S. State Department and representatives of the French Government. Reciprocally, the price of French and U. S. visas has been reduced from $10 to $2.

The $10 visa fee, bane of U. S. travelers abroad, started in 1920 when U. S. consuls were instructed to collect $9, plus $1 for executing the application, from each and every foreigner who wanted a passport visaed. Delighted at finding a new source of revenue, several foreign governments instantly retaliated, charged all U. S. tourists $10 each.

Finding that U. S. citizens were spending millions on foreign visas — while little money was accruing from foreign tourists in the U. S. — the State Department started negotiations in 1925 to abolish or reduce the $10 charge. France last week was the 29th nation to comply.

Among the nations granting free visas to U. S. citizens: Germany, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Esthonia, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Russia.

Charging $1 to $4: France, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, Austria, Chile, Spain.

The Turkish Republic holds out for $6 ; while still in the $10 class are: Norway, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Rumania, Greece, Great Britain, Irish Free State.

Last week the London Evening Stand ard commented on the French reduction of visa fees : "France has so many advantages over Britain for the attraction of Americans that we can ill afford to put any obstacles in the way of the potential visitor. There is a tendency on this side of the Channel to imagine that all American travelers are so rich that a few extra dollars in the way of fees will not weigh one way or another. That is quite wrong.",00.html

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