International Visitors: A Great Economic Stimulus

September 10, 2009

IStock_000001958458XSmall Bravo to the United States Senate for supporting a much-needed bill that will spur international travel, boost U.S. hotel stays and help accelerate the recovery of the U.S. economy.  My thanks to Senators Harry Reid, Byron Dorgan and John Ensign for their tireless work.  The Travel Promotion Act will now move over to the House of Representatives, where Congressmen Roy Blunt and Bill Delahunt are the champions.

The Travel Promotion Act is no cost to taxpayers and the Congressional Budget Offices estimates it will reduce the federal budget deficit by $425 million dollars.

We're really enthusiastic because this legislation would create a public-private partnership to promote the U.S. as a travel destination and educate international travelers on our policies here in the United States for security.  There is so much confusion about what our security and entry policies are, so we certainly want to educate travelers so they'll understand the process better.

In 2008 the U.S. welcomed fewer overseas visitors than we did in 2000, despite the fact that 48 million more people were taking overseas trips to countries around the world.  So, the pie grew big, but the U.S. got a smaller piece.  It's high time we start marketing "Brand America" and let people know we're open for business.

This will be funded by a $10 fee on travelers coming from Visa Waiver Countries -- those people that don't pay $131 for a visa.  There is also a private sector match component so, again, no taxpayer money.

Oxford Economics estimates the program will create 40,000 U.S. jobs and drive $4 billion in new consumer spending.  Overseas visitors spend about $4,500 per person, per trip in our country -- think of all the tax revenue for state, local, and federal governments to pay for public services.  What a terrific economic stimulus this will be!

So to Congressmen Blunt and Delahunt, we're eager for you to start your work, and Marriott will be there to help you get this done and on to the President.  To those of you who wrote your Senators, thank you so much!  We'll be asking you again to contact your House members.

I'm Bill Marriott, and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

International Visitors A Great Economic Stimulus


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As an International Traveler and Tourism Industry Operator, I agree and cheer to their hard work on try to bring International Toutist back to America. After 9/11, we lost 80% of International Tourist and student who love to visit and study in America. Do you know how much International student tuition? It is 3 time higher than the local student. Since we turn down these student visa, they took all money to Australia and EU who always give student visa out easily. My friends from Thailand who love to visit me in America an spend their money here got turn down when they apply for tourist visa all the times.

et tu Bill? You applaud charging a $10 fee from Visitors to the United States to promote more visitors? Repeat that sentence a few times and you might see how loony that idea is.
It doesn't affect tax payers? Are you kidding me? What do you think is going to happen us Americans when we visit say Europe? They are going to see this as a visa fee (which it really is!) and slap that on us as well. Maybe you like it because it will act as a hidden subsidy to the travel industry to promote travel. I don't believe in corporate handouts -- seems Marriottt does.

Definately a move in the right direction. In response to the other poster about THE ONLY PLACE TO GET MONEY IS FORM (sic)TAX PAYING AMERICANS... If you read the text again, it states where the money is coming form... It states: This will be funded by a $10 fee on travelers coming from Visa Waiver Countries --
Hopefully the House Of Reps will read that part before deciding..!...

What about the message you are sending to visitors from Visa Waiver countries, who already have to suffer the indignity of being photographed and fingerprinted and who now have to pay an additional $10 to get in?
I know it isn't a huge sum. But I do think it is one more unwelcome message that greets visitors to America. Especially considering how vehemently a swathe of the American public opposes similar stealth taxes.
This would not go down well with Americans traveling to Europe. So why should it go down well for Europeans, and others, traveling to America?
PS I am a green card holder from a visa waiver country.

This has nothing to do wth this topic - but I have a great idea to save energy and money with you refrigerators in yourproperties. It is simplke remedy that I noticed while staying at a Springhill property recently.

It is interesting that this bill is highlighted for not taxing taxpayers. However, as one of the commentors have mentioned, money doesn't come from nowhere. By being funded by a $10 fee on travelers coming from Visa Waiver Countries this is effectively becomes a cost which may deter international visitors. Instead government should promote more open access and fewer obstacles for international visitors.

Great idea! I think it is very important to understand that if tourists do not feel welcome, they will slowly but surely gravitate towards other destinations. Indeed, while homeland security is the most vital issue, most of the travelers come to the US in order to spend a pacific holiday (bringing at the same time an immense amount of resources, as you point out).
Regarding the comment of Ken Casida, perhaps he failed to read your paragraph about the origin of the funds for the program.
Congratulations for your ideas and your hard work. And thanks for always providing a nice place to stay in many cities of the world for us Marriott fans!

As a frequent foreign visitor to the USA I have a totally different view on this new fee. While at first it may look like something good to get free advertising funds, it may proove completely counter-productive.
The USA right now already has one of the most barrier-creating immigration-proceures in the world that does not sit very well with travelers from Europe, especially the requirements for registering in advance with ESTA (in addition to the APIS transmission by the airlines), being fingerprinted on arrival and have their mugshot taken at the border. This procedure already HAS shifted quite some traffic to other countries where immigration is much more welcoming for us Europeans, like Mexico, South Africa, Thailand or even Canada.
Adding another barrier to overcome for tourists who at first are looking for a hassle-free experience when on vacation seems not to be the right way for me to stimulate the travel from Visa-waiver countries to the US. In fact, given the discussion in Europe about it, reactions are terribly negative and people who were still undecided (because of the allready in place hassles they face when entering the country) whether to visit the USA are starting to look for alternatives.
It may increase travelers from Visa Waiver Countries only if more countries (like Korea) are added to the VWP-coutry list, however in the end I would assume that the total number of travelers to the USA will not raise by this measure, but will drop with the inverse effect on Economy as predicted. For many in Europe this really brings back memories to communist regimes like the GDR (German Democratic Republic) who charged people to get in back when they existed. Is that the heritage the USA wants to be viewed in?
So this ingenious idea is another step in the wrong direction given the objectives behind it, and I cannot really understand that this is seen by many Americans as the best ideas since the invention of sliced bread...

I am a strong believer that the more others visit our country and the more we visit other countries the less likely we are to fight with each other! As a Marriott shareholder I appreciate the effort to increase visits to the US by those from other countries as good for business. However I think the greater good is foreign visitors getting to see and better understand our wonderful country.

It's about time, good luck!!!
But can Mr. Obama and the US Government tell me how will the people that lost their money fix things and regain what they lost. My brother in law lost 600 thousand dollars in the crisis. I know this is a drop in water compared to the big companies and banks that closed down but this was everything that he had. He had opened a new coffee shop and bought a brand name. After a short while everything crashed down. He and his wife are right now in debt and trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered life all over again. No further comments!!!

Bravo to US senate! Hopefully EU will do the same and we as Europeans will get paid back by visitors from US. Being charged just for visiting country is way back and not forward...

ONE THING YOU NEED TO REMEMBER WHEN YOU SPEAK ON NO COST TO TAX PAYERS. THE UNITED STATES GOV. CANNOT GIVE SOMEONE SOMETHING WITHOUT TAKING IT FROM SOMEONE ELSE.THE ONLY PLACE TO GET MONEY IS FORM TAX PAYING AMERICANS.