President Obama signed the U.S. Travel Promotion Act into law today, creating a new national tourism organization to promote the U.S. as an international destination. Many in the U.S. hospitality industry are excited about the opportunity to gain more marketing exposure. But it comes at a price from the visitors the program is designed to attract.

A US$10 fee will be charged to international visitors from 35 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to cover up to US$100 million of the budget. The fee would be assessed once every two years, allowing unlimited visits into the U.S. during that time. The legislation also allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to charge a separate administrative fee which some say will amount to US$2-3 per transaction to manage the program – costing another US$20-30 million each year. Individuals are likely to incur personal credit card fees as well.

Originally published March 4, 2010