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Tourist Tax in America

30 August, 2010 08:28  Erin Erin

Travelers to the USA may be looking forward to saving some money as the value of the dollar has diminished, but they will have to pay a new tourist tax first.


On September 8th, 2010 the new tax will be initiated. The Travel Promotion Act was signed into law by President Obama in March 2010.

How much?

It is a $10 fee with a $4 administration fee equalling $14. It will only be collected once every two years.
The fee will fund up to 50 percent of America’s promotion activities. The tax must be paid in advance, electronically (by debit from a credit card). This is usually done in tandem with the application through the ESTA to enter the United States. The four dollar administration fee is non-refundable, even if the application is refused.


This tax will be placed on all travelers entering the US under the Visa Waiver Program.


Entitled the "Travel Promotion Act", the basic goal of this fee is to encourage travel to America. The country has seen a drop-off in the amount of foreign visitors and this act seeks to fund a large scale ad campaign promoting the USA. The US welcomed 2.4 million fewer overseas visitors in 2009 than in 2000. This initiative is not only relying on the fee to foreign travelers, but is funded by will be funded by up to $100 million in private sector contributions.

Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

The ESTA is another new addition to US travel procedure. Started this January, it applies to international travelers who are seeking to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.

    Visitors must apply for authorization to enter the United States if:
  • You are a citizen or eligible national of a Visa Waiver Program country.
  • You are currently not in possession of a visitor's visa.
  • Your travel is for 90 days or less.
  • You plan to travel to the United States for business or pleasure.

Applications are made online and concern the identity, health, morality and the possible criminal background of the applicant. Status of an application can also be checked online.


Many nations, and the EU as a collective, have criticized this new tax. The European Commissioner responsible for security matters, Cecilia Malmström, has said that the new American tax was "inconsistent with the commitment of the United States to facilitate mobility".

Some feel the tax is directly detrimental to the US tourism industry as it appears to be an attempt to "protect the frontier".

56 countries already levy a tax to enter their territory. And the fee is decidedly low. In others countries they fee may be as much as a hundred dollar.

For more stories on the tax...

For more information about the Travel Promotion Act, please visit or


Erin Ball
Freelance Writer from Seattle



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         EasyExpat on

Tourist tax 'em baby [Reply]

The USA is already a top travel destination so this tax is counter-intuitive and will likely be counter-productive. I don't see why anyone would want to PAY to visit the country. I wouldn't...but maybe that's an American attitude.

  Scholar Spartan     09 Sep 2010, 23:50


Israeli dont have to pay? But they get Millions in American Aid?? EVERYBODY PAYS or no one.

  Is anyone Home?     17 Sep 2010, 09:27