Welcome to America....that'll be $10!
"The proposed $10 penalty for entering the United States is being sold as a 'tourist promotion' measure, but only in Alice in Wonderland could a penalty be seen as promoting the activity on which it is imposed" - Ambassador John Bruton, Head of EU Delegation to the USA, 9 Sept 09
I think that says it all really.
A week ago, the United States Senate passed the Travel Promotion Act 2009 "to communicate United States entry policies and otherwise promote leisure, business, and scholarly travel."
To help with that promotion, foreign visitors who haven't paid $131 for a visa will be charged $10 to visit the land of the free.
The bill now needs to go to the House of Representatives. Assuming it is passed, the $10 fee would be charged when travellers fill out an ESTA security form and lasts for 2 years. So it's not exactly going to break the bank, but it is targeted firmly at holiday-makers from a specific range of countries including the UK (using the US visa-waiver program).
The money from the entry fee will be used to pay for a new independent nonprofit tourism promotion body, the Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP).
Because the Americans so need one of those! In my time as a travel journalist they've had a continuous parade of public & private tourism bodies - the USTTA, the TIA, VisitUSA, and now just recently the USTA.
Oh well, it's their country. Let them do what they like.
If you have any views, feel free to comment. I've lost the urge to get excited about it any more.