08 November 2010

US ESTA and tough security measures ‘will slow revival’ warns travel industry chief

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A recovery in the numbers of UK visitors travelling to the US is being threatened by the “intimidating” experience of arriving in the country, a travel industry chief said.


The new ESTA charge may discourage UK tourists to the US, a travel expert has said.

While speaking at a Visit USA breakfast meeting, Advantage chief executive John McEwan said while latest figures from the travel agency consortium showed a revival in forward bookings to key US destinations, he warned that heavy security measures imposed by the Department for Homeland Security were acting "as a handbrake".

Florida sales were up 10 per cent, the West Coast was up 8 per cent and Las Vegas was also up, helped by new competition between BA and Virgin Atlantic.

"Arriving in the US can be intimidating and the high level of paperwork and bureaucracy will act as a handbrake against trying to get customers to visit the country," Mr McEwan said.

Imposing a fee for the compulsory ESTA to enter the US had created another barrier, along with the increase in Air Passenger Duty  was also working against the US.

Mr McEwan said there was a large amount of unsold capacity for New York in the Christmas period, which normally would have sold out by now.
Advantage – Specialists in Travel was founded more than 30 years ago and is the UK’s largest independent travel agency consortium, with over 750 retail outlets throughout the UK.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their US VIsa application to the US Embassy.

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