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Obama Administration Takes Significant Step Toward Launching America's First-Ever Travel Promotion Program
The U.S. Travel Association applauded a move by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently that will enable U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to collect a fee from select international visitors beginning September 8 for the purpose of funding America's first-ever travel promotion program to attract more visitors to the United States. CBP will collect a $10 fee every two years from travelers from Visa Waiver Program countries via its Electronic System for Travel Authorization. The fee, which will fund up to 50 percent of America's promotion activities, is a result of the Travel Promotion Act signed into law by President Obama in March.

"We are pleased to see the Obama Administration, particularly Secretaries Napolitano and Locke, aggressively implementing key components of the Travel Promotion Act," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S Travel Association. "The soon-to-be created Corporation for Travel Promotion will help to better explain America's travel and security policies and let the world know that America wants their business. The result will be billions of dollars in new visitor spending and thousands of new American jobs."

According to Oxford Economics, the inability of the United States to simply keep pace with average growth in international long-haul travel over the past decade has cost our economy an estimated $509 billion in total spending and 441,000 American jobs. In addition, our country forfeited an estimated $32 billion in direct tax receipts over the same period. The average overseas visitor spends in excess of $4,000 when they visit the United States. Oxford Economics estimates that a well-executed promotion program will attract 1.6 million new international visitors to the U.S. annually and create $4 billion in new spending each year.

In addition to the mandatory $10 travel promotion fee established by the Travel Promotion Act, DHS is expected to add a fee of $4 to cover CBP's costs to administer the ESTA system. The total fee for a new or renewed ESTA is expected to be $14. This fee is significantly less than Americans often pay when entering or departing foreign countries.

The Department of Homeland Security published a notice of the interim final rule in the Federal Register on August 5 and will accept comments through October 8.

The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $704 billion travel industry. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. For more information, visit ""