Lately, I try to keep up with the news again. The Google Reader has been a valuable tool in these efforts. I have several subscriptions of US and German content providers that I can access from any computer with internet connection and my cell phone... Don't you love it?? :-)
Last week I came across a news report on Spiegel.de that said that the U.S. government want to start charging a fee of USD 10.- for tourists entering the U.S. I thought they were kidding at first, especially because this was the first thing, I ever heard about this. I guess, it's just not a topic of interest for U.S. citizens since they won't be charged. So earlier this week I did some research in the German (Spiegel/ Tagesschau) press and none of them sound very happy and I have to agree. This whole thing is a complete joke.
The official name for this joke is "Travel Promotion Act" and the goal is to set up funds in order to promote tourism in the USA. It applies to every tourist that doesn't need a visa for a short term visit which are most European and several other nations if they are participating in the "Visa Waiver Programme".
Can someone explain this logic to me please?? I want to get more tourists into my country, so I let them pay, in order to support the tourism industry in their advertising? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I understand that the tourism industry suffered over the last year due to the economic downturn, but this is the wrong way to approach the problem. Especially since this fund (public sector) will be controlled by the leaders of the American tourism industry (private sector) and those leaders (e.g. Disney and Marriott) are still busy posting huge profits even in these rough times. You are supposed to make the country more attractive for visitors and not more frustrating. It's already bad enough as it is. Immigration is taking forever because every tourist gets asked the standard questionnaire, finger/ hand prints and photos are taken. I actually have friends and family that tell me, they don't want to be treated like criminals and therefore choose not to visit this country. Adding a fee to these procedures won't make things any better, because it will prompt more people to decide against a trip to the U.S. no matter how many Mickey Mouse commercials they are going to see on TV!
I read this article in the Washington Post by Jim DeMint and I think he nailed the topic as did Ambassador John Bruton from the Delegation of the European Commission to the USA in his statement. I don't have anything else to add. Hopefully some members of the house of representatives will read this and hopefully it's going to influence their decision to not vote for the Travel Promotion Act.
My blog isn't intented to be political, but reading about this just fires me up every time. The U.S. is still the most powerful country in the world, but even this country cannot survive on it's own. Our economy depends on other countries, just as much as they are interlinked with ours. The economic downturn showed that in a very scary way. The Travel Promotion Act gives the promise of supporting the tourism industry with good chances to make things even worse for it... Also, I think the world economy has bigger fish to fry right now and work together rather than to upset each other with ridiculous ideas such as these.