Travellers visiting the US from visa waiver countries, such as Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Australia, will now have to pay USD$14 from September 8, 2010, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The fee will be charged when they apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).
The new levy is to help fund the Corporation for Travel Promotion, created when the 2009 Travel Promotion Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this year. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said: “Creating a tourism promotion programme to encourage international visitors to vacation in America will help spur economic growth and create more jobs.”
The initiative has the potential to create 40,000 new jobs and generate US$4 billion in new visitor spending, predicts think tank Oxford Economics. Should this happen, the Congressional Budget Office believes the federal budget deficit will shrink by US$425 million in the next 10 years.
Travel and tourism is the top services export for the US, totaling US$120 billion and supporting more than one million American jobs.? Overseas visitors spend an average of US$4,000 per person per trip in the US.
ESTA was established in 2008 to improve Visa Waiver security (see online news November 13, 2008), and all airlines have now been advised by US Customs and Border Protection that the scheme becomes mandatory from January 20, 2010 (see news).
For more information, visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/