US tourist marketing boards are concerned that a new $10 tax may deter holidaymakers from visiting the destination.

The Travel Promotion Act was passed yesterday (September 14) by the US Senate and requires anyone visiting the US, who is exempt from buying a $131 visa, to pay a $10 charge for filling out the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) application.

Although it must still be passed by the House of Representatives before being enacted in law, Visit USA chairwoman Kate Burgess-Craddy said it is likely to be given the green light. She said the charge could be introduced as early as Christmas, although it is more likely to be up and running by next summer.

Although the charge needs to be paid only every two years when travellers renew their ESTA applications, she is concerned that yet another tax may deter travellers from visiting the US. “It is a concern, but hopefully travellers will see it is only £6, it is less than other countries charge, and you pay it only every two years. A lot of how it is received will depend on how it is presented to the media.”

Visit Florida director for UK, Ireland and Scandinavia Colin Brodie added: “It is a delicate situation. When it is tough to get travellers to travel, an additional tax is going to be a challenge.”

However, Burgess-Craddy welcomed the plan by the US government to use the money raised to fund further destination marketing of the US. “The funds have got to come from somewhere,” she said.


Talking points

Will the move affect travel to the US? Is the ESTA system working for you?