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August 10, 2010

NEW FEE TO FUND TRAVEL AND TOURISM PROMOTION WILL BRING
MORE INTERNATIONAL VISITORS TO THE U.S., SPUR ECONOMIC GROWTH

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it will begin collecting fees on travelers from Visa Waiver countries beginning Sept. 8, 2010. Travelers will be charged a $14 fee when applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). A portion of the fee will go toward funding the Corporation for Travel Promotion, created by the 2009 Travel Promotion Act.

“This is an important milestone in the implementation of the Travel Promotion Act,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “Creating a tourism promotion program to encourage international visitors to vacation in America will help spur economic growth and create more jobs.”

Travel and tourism is the top services export for the United States, totaling $120 billion and supporting more than one million American jobs.

Overseas visitors spend an average of $4,000 per person per trip in the United States. Oxford Economics estimates the travel promotion program under the Travel Promotion Act will generate $4 billion in new visitor spending and 40,000 new jobs. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the program will reduce the federal budget deficit by $425 million in the next 10 years.

President Obama signed the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (TPA) into law earlier this year, putting into place a new public-private partnership between the U.S. government and the nation’s travel and tourism industry. Under the TPA, Commerce Secretary Locke will appoint the board of directors for the Corporation for Travel Promotion. Commerce will work closely with the board to ensure the Corporation achieves its goals.

The DHS release follows.

For more information, visit the ESTA Web site at http://www.cbp.gov/ESTA.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection August 6, 2010
Contact: CBP Public Affairs,
Joanne Ferreira
(202) 344-1676

DHS, CBP ANNOUNCE INTERIM FINAL RULE FOR ESTA FEE

WASHINGTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection today announced an interim final rule that amends DHS regulations to require travelers from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries to pay operational and travel promotion fees when applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) beginning September 8, 2010.

A fee of $4.00 will recover the costs incurred by CBP of providing and administering the ESTA system and is in addition to the mandatory $10 travel promotion fee established by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, enacted as Section 9 of Public Law 111-145, the United States Capitol Police Administrative Technical Corrections Act of 2009. The total fee for a new or renewed ESTA will be $14.00.

All payments for electronic travel authorization applications must be made by credit card or debit card when applying for or renewing an ESTA at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The ESTA system currently accepts only the following credit/debit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover. Your application will not be submitted for processing until all payment information is received.

DHS published a notice of the interim final rule in the Federal Register today and will accept comments through October 8. Collection of the fees will begin for ESTA applications filed on or after September 8.

ESTA is an electronic travel authorization that all nationals of VWP countries must obtain prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States under the VWP. This travel authorization has been mandatory since Jan. 12, 2009.

ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel. Once approved, authorizations are generally valid for multiple entries into the U.S. for up to two years or until the applicant’s passport expires or other specific circumstances give rise to a need to reapply, whichever comes first. Under the new interim final rule, travelers with an approved ESTA will not need to pay the ESTA fees when updating an ESTA application. However, travelers with new passports and re-applying for an ESTA will need to pay the ESTA fees.
Citizens interested in commenting on this rulemaking—identified by docket number USCBP-2010-0025—may submit written comments by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http//www.regulations.gov and following the instructions for submitting comments or by mail at: Border Security Regulations Branch, Office of International Trade, Customs and Border Protection, (Mint Annex), Washington, D.C. 20229.

The VWP is administered by DHS and enables eligible nationals of 36 designated countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Additional information regarding the VWP is available at http://www.customs.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/business_pleasure/vwp/vwp.xml. For more information about ESTA, please visit www.cbp.gov/ESTA.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.


U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI), 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 1003, Washington, DC 20230; Phone:(202) 482-0140; Fax: (202) 482-2887; Website www.tinet.ita.doc.gov; Email: Otti@trade.gov