05 March 2010

Obama signs the ESTA Travel Promotion Act

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America’s first national travel and tourism promotion organisation is much closer, after President Obama signed the Travel Promotion Act into law yesterday.


Obama has signed the Travel Promotion Act, which will see a nominal fee for the ESTA to help fund travel promotion.

The Travel Promotion Act will create a non-profit body, the Corporation for Travel Promotion, to promote America to overseas tourists and to provide information on travel and security policies to the country.

A nominal fee will be charged to visitors from countries included in the Visa Waiver Program, countries such as Australia, Japan as well as the European Union, to partially fund the organisation which will also receive private funding.  Countries included in the Visa Waiver Program require an ESTA, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization, to enter a flight to the US.

The rest of the funding for the corporation will come through up to $100 million in private sector contributions.

President and CEO of the US Travel Association, Roger Dow, has welcomed the move.

"By signing the Travel Promotion Act, President Obama has acted to support the power of travel to serve as an economic stimulant, job generator and diplomatic tool," said Roger Dow.

The corporation will address major losses the US has experienced in overseas visitors, and also bring the country up to speed with other countries in tourism promotion.

National tourism organisations in Greece, Australia and Mexico each spent more than US$100 million on tourism marketing in 2005, figures from the UN World Tourism Organisation show.

In the same year, the last year for which figures are available, America spent only US$6 million.

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