Another Brick In Our Wall
The travel industry has criticised plans to introduce a $10 (£6) tax on all British holidaymakers entering the United States.
The charge will apply to all travellers entering the US under the Visa Waiver Programme using the online authorisation system ESTA, which was launched in January.
Although the bill, entitled the Travel Promotion Act, is yet to be ratified by the House of Representatives, it was passed by an overwhelming majority in the Senate this week and looks likely to come into force early next year…
Yours truly apologizes, but this sort of thing causes this blog only to groan. To be clear, it is directed not just at British holidaymakers, but at all “visa waiver” travellers — meaning most western Europeans. It would nice if President Obama vetoed this, but he probably won’t, although it continues to demonstrate how we can apparently look to devise as many ways as possible to cause foreign visitors (and prospective ones) to feel themselves decidedly unwelcome and unwanted.
Indeed, we appear hell-bent always to allow our sainted leaders to pile on just one more little “vital necessity” to the ever-increasing hassles of those who wish to enter the U.S. briefly (and spend money!) to go to Disney World, or to the Statue of Liberty, or to do business, by the front door, perfectly legally.
If at international arrivals at US airports it isn’t the police-style immigration officers (at Heathrow border agents wear business-like attire, with women often in skirts and men in shirts and ties) manning the “Welcome to the United States” desks while armed (before the singular public clientele on this planet as weaponless as it is possible reasonably to make them), it is the electronic photographing and fingerprinting of foreign visitors’ seeming everything other than their rear ends (well, not yet anyway — at least until some congressman who hasn’t travelled abroad since 1995 stumbles on “the idea”, that is; in contrast almost no one gets photographed and fingerprinted entering the UK), to the $5 (wonderfully, credit cards are accepted) luggage carts at JFK (while luggage carts are free at Heathrow).
And the sorry list could go on. International visitation — especially from Western Europe — continues to decline, and we don’t even seem to care. But in a recession, especially, one would think we would?
“Travel Promotion Act?” It is to laugh.