US Senate Passes Bill Fining Tourists In The Name Of Tourism
On Wednesday the US Senate passed the Travel Promotion Act, which as a piece of legislation seems at least well-named. "Travel" is good. "Promotion" is usually at least interesting. So you'd think that this would be something positive. Yeah right:
Once signed into law, the Travel Promotion Act will create a public-private partnership with a budget of up to $200 million annually—funded by a $10 fee on foreign travelers from countries that do not pay for a visa to enter the United States—for the purpose of attracting international travelers to the United States.
Only our Congress could possibly pretend that the best way to promote tourism is by fining incoming tourists. More over, the bill doesn't so much promote US tourism as a certain kind of US tourism. The bill's original sponsors were the two Senators from Hawaii. The "bipartisan" label got slapped on after they were joined by Harry Reid, the Democratic Senator from Nevada, and John Ensign, the Repubublican Senator from Nevada. You begin to see where this is going.
As Vegas news radio station KXNT put it: "Federal Bill Promotes Vegas-Style Tourism." We're slapping a fine on all current incoming foreign visitors so we can convince potential future tourists to visit Vegas. The National Restaurant Association declared itself to be particularly pleased, as did the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
Why are we less than confident that they have the interests of global cosmopolitanism at heart?
We love Vegas as much as anybody. Probably more, actually. But come on now. Putting aside small considerations like "isn't this unfair," "isn't that boorish," and "is Las Vegas really where we want people to go to get a sense of America" - this is going to directly hurt Americans looking to go overseas. The EU is threatening to retaliate. Ditto for Australia. And honestly, why shouldn't they?
If nothing else we probably deserve to be punished for electing Senators who, by all appearances, are unblinking lobby-owned morons.
[Photo: FEMA Photo Library / Wiki Commons]
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