Government Spending

Travel Promotion Act to Tax People Who Travel

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purple mountains majesty. that'll be $10, please

Next week, the Travel Promotion Act will likely come up for a vote in the Senate. The idea is to promote tourism in America. By creating a federal agency charged with promoting tourism in America, obviously. That agency will then use its magical agency power to create tens of thousands of jobs. Heck, hundreds for thousands!

"We have to make sure they have enough resources to do a good job. This is big-time stuff," Reid said. "It will bring about very quickly up to 50,000 new employees in the service sector, and up to 240,000 people in other aspects of the business world."

How will be act be funded? By a fee on international airline tickets, of course.

Yep, nothing says "Welcome to America!" and "Thank you, come again" like a $10 surcharge.

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  1. “Gonna be a dental floss tycoon.”

    1. Waxing it up in a little white box I can sell up town.

      1. By myself I wouldn’t have no boss,
        But I’d be raisin’ my lonely Dental Floss

        1. “Raisin’ it up … waxin’ it down.”

    2. Yippie-I-O-KI-A

  2. All this shit has got to stop!

  3. These people are so fucking stupid that they make my head hurt.

  4. For me, the chilling effect of this pales in comparison to that of the announcement today that my nearest international airport is having the first of many full-body scanners installed today. My choice for the foreseeable future: (A) Drive to every destination within 1000 miles, and go to tiny airports for everything further; or (B) Absorb more radiation than a Hiroshima victim.

    1. My parents live 1,700 miles away, but that’s really beginning to look like a drivable distance.

      1. My family lives 900 miles away and I’ve driven every visit since 9/11 – solely because I refuse to submit to inane and useless security checks — yes, I’d rather waste hours on the road than hours sitting in an airport.

        1. I used to have a rule that I’d fly only for distances that took more than four hours to drive (assuming I didn’t need to return the same day), and that was before 9/11. I haven’t flown in a few years (between non-travel job and baby, not much flying opportunities), but I bet with the extra security, I’ll be adjusting that figure.

          1. 4 hours is pretty short. Assuming you live 30 minutes from the airport, and your destination is 30 minutes from the airport, that’s an hour off your trip. You have at least 1 hour at the airport before takeoff, and if you check bags, say another 30 minutes at the destination airport from the time your plane arrives at the gate. So now we are down to 1.5 hours differential. Say the plane ride is about 30 minutes – plausible for a four hour drive. Now it is only an hour differential.

            Add in picking up your rental car, and the extra cost…. a four hour drive is really not a good candidate for replacement with a flight, unless you are traveling to a city center with excellent public transport on a day-trip for business where the company is picking up the tab.

    2. I, frankly, am looking forward to the TSA agents passing around copies of my full body scan in limp jawed awe…or fear!

    3. I take the train or drive. Haven’t stepped foot in the flying death trap since 2004. Happier for it.

      1. Flying death trap? You’re far more likely to die in a car.

  5. This will cost US Americans money when we travel overseas as well. I paid $130 for a tourist visa to Brazil because our crooks charge Brazilians $130 for US tourist visas.

    1. No kidding! We have had that happen in more than Brazil (Chile’, too). What goes around, comes around. I am with the poster that said, “These people are so……stupid, they make MY head hurt!”

  6. How can Reid be promoting this when we still don’t have universal health care insurance implemented!!

    Universal health care insurance first, THEN the Feds as travel agents!!

    Seriously, someone’s not promoting travel already? That whole “Pure Michigan”, “Virginia is for Lovers”, “I [heart] NY”?? Oh, those were state and local efforts, riiiiight. We damn sure need federal intervention in this area!!

    1. and think of all the money Disney will save not having to advertise any more…..

    2. You have to understand that Reid is from Nevada. Not many people outside of the western US have ever heard of Nevada and it’s quaint little desert towns of Las Vegas (sounds exotic) or Reno. Of course only federal interevention can increase Nevada’s name recognition in London, Berlin and Rangoon.

      1. you’re joking, right? Vegas spends millions and millions promoting itself around the world.
        yeah, you’re joking…..

        1. It’s for teh children

        2. Oh, oh, I know. They should just change the resort destination names to really cool names like Las Viagra, Viagra Falls, Los Cialis, New York Cialis, and just take advantage of all the limp dick advertising?

  7. With a bit of savvy the Travel Channel could mop up nice with this. Get govt money forsomething they already do for profit? It’s a no-brainer.

  8. People sure don’t want to come to the US for the freedom anymore.

  9. This is a good idea. You have to realize that most people in the wirld don’t even know America exists. Yeah, we’re better known the Azerbaijan, but only by a few percentage points.

    Once you factor in the established effectiveness of government advertising (remember how “Just Say No!” reduced teenage drug use by close to 90%) this is a win/win scenario.

    People who never knew that you could vacation in America will start coming here in droves rather than visiting vacation hotspots like Benin and Uganda.

    And it’s all going to be financed by a miniscule tax on international travelers that will have absolutely no effect on international travel.

    1. You have to realize that most people in the wirld don’t even know America exists.

      [Citation needed]

      Im trying to do the math in my head, but it doesnt work out.

      1. I think that was sarcasm, but it threw me for a minute too.

    2. In fairness the problem is not that most people don’t know we exist. The problem is that most people’s impression of us come from watching the BBC. And if you only watched the BBC, you would think that all of the USA is either East St. Louis or Harlen County Kentucky.

      1. Nothing wrong with Harlan County. Well other than producing Nick Lachey.

        1. And for that it should burn.

    3. And it’s all going to be financed by a miniscule tax on international travelers that will have absolutely no effect on international travel.

      Exactly. “It is but one waaaaafer-thin mint….”

      Federalize travel advertising? HELL YES!

  10. Seriously, this country is so difficult to get into that lots of people don’t bother.

    Hell, it’s harder for me to get back into the US as a citizen than it is to get into Europe as a visitor.

    They already fingerprint and photograph every single visitor….and require detailed travel plans, including phone numbers.

    1. That was about what I was going to say. Make it a bit less hellish to get into the country and more people will come. Its not as if people in the world don’t know enough about the US.

    2. So you’re saying we should double the fees to get into the country, right? That seems consistent with Sen. Reid’s thinking…

      1. It’s the same as Obama’s thinking when it comes to healthcare. How is he going to make medical insurance more available to the 10-15 million Americans who don’t have it (or want it)? By making it MORE expensive for the 90% of Americans who have it now, that’s how. Sounds fair if you are the President or a Congressman with your own low-cost comprehensive health care plan that nobody is willing to talk about openly to the press.

      2. That seems consistent with Sen. Reid’s thinking…

        Senator Reid thinks?

        1. Senator Reid thinks he thinks, therefore he thinks he am. Others know better.

    3. A few years ago, I drove from Portland, ME to Quebec City. The Mounties actually called my hotel in Quebec City to see if I was really staying there. They also looked in my engine compartment, trunk and our (mine and my girlfriend’s, now wife’s) bags. Oh, I had US military ID tags on my car, too. WTF? Not sure what they were hoping to accomplish. The obnoxiousness isn’t limited to the US.

      1. The Maine Menace.

        1. Mainiac. Where all the Main Streets are “Maine” Streets. That joke never gets old . . .

          1. Maybe they just lusted for your girlfriend/wife? They don’t call them Mounties for nothing, you know.

      2. Oh, I had US military ID tags on my car, too.

        They were probably worried that you were invading, and were trying to decide if they needed to surrender.

        1. Well, OK, but the last time you invaded we came south out of the ice fog and burned the White House. Re-match?

      3. I used to travel between the US and Canada dozens of times a year. I was given a hard time by the Canadian border people on one occasion.
        Every single time I’ve entered the US in the company of non-resident foreigners they’ve been treated rudely. It must be policy. Road, rail, and air border controls have all been the same.
        I’m with oaktownadam and Zeb. If our the USA wants foreign tourists, it should act like it.

    4. It’s getting ugly and stupid out there. I’m Canadian and used to go to the USA regularly, like 40-50 times a year, for major vacations like Disneyland, and for groceries. I have a cottage just across the border from Eureka Montana.

      No more. Too much waiting, too much effort. I agree with the commenter below that the Canucki border people are just as bad. I’d say worse. This is fiscal disaster for all of us. In 2009 the USA had 43,624,454 arrivals into the USA, 16,786,187 from Canada. Let’s assume that every one of us spends $100, that’s nearly 1.7 billion. The bridge between Detroit and Canada carries more trade than the entire trade the USA does with Japan.

      The terrorists have won. They have convinced us to commit suicide.

  11. We’re starting to resemble a third-world nation in our corruption and banality.

    1. …just trying to make visitors from the third world feel right at home!

    2. Don’t make me call the Animal Control people on you ProL!!

      1. Ha! I’ve already paid off Animal Control.

  12. threadjack,

    We just think the US is insane. The UK really is.

    Mall security guard accuses shopper of being a paedophile for photographing his own son
    http://www.boingboing.net/2010…..guard.html

    1. Completely, batshit nuts. WTF are they putting in the water in that place?

    2. **frantically deleting pictures of my family’s boating adventures from last summer posted to Facebook – THE KIDS ARE IN BATHING SUITS, FERCHRISAKES!**

    3. This is some kind of fucked up…

  13. Presumably Harry Reid is working off the same premise that hiking the minimum wage will cause employers to increase their employment of those paid at that level. Backward sloping demand curves must be all the rage today.

  14. maybe someone can tell Reid he doesn’t need an agency to promote LasVegas, he could boost travel there if he can convince the president to stop telling everyone to not go to Las Vegas for their year end meetings.

  15. This is but a microcosm of the tone deafness, or is it the complete ignorance of economics, of everyone in DC.

  16. Reid is just doing what every city in the country does. Lets tax out of towners. Hell it is not like they vote or anything.

    1. We tax what we want to discourage. Both left and right are on board with that theory yet they increase taxes on hotel rooms, rental cars etc in order to promote tourism.

      Cognitive dissonance at it’s finest.

      1. It is possible to hold two contradictory thoughts, they told me so. It just takes a nuanced mind.

        1. Oh, is nuanced the PC word for diseased?

          *writes it down*

  17. Yep – they just vote with their wallets, as those in the tourism-related industries are aware

  18. Wait until “affirmative action” suits start rolling in. The senators from Texas will demand to know why the Odessa Meteor Crater isn’t being given equal coverage in the travel guides with Niagara Falls or Miami Beach. Then another group will discover that the touted “Marie’s House of Dolls” in Searchlight, NV is not, in fact, a kiddie Betsy Wetsy doll museum.

    1. “”Marie’s House of Dolls” in Searchlight, NV is not, in fact, a kiddie Betsy Wetsy doll museum.”

      YOU LIE! They have dolls. It’s at Neiklejohn St., Numurkah, VIC Australia

      http://www.smh.com.au/travel/t…..-5zso.html

  19. Shaking people down merely for daring to cross international borders is bullshit. It’s made even ickier by the brazen way they fail to even attempt to make it look like anything other than a shakedown.

    Of all the stuff that is lame, I really, really hate the picking on foreigners thing. Just stop. Stop with this, stop with the bullshit $200 “temporary visas” Canada will make you get if you’ve had a run-in with the law slightly more serious than a traffic ticket, stop with the INS refusing to grant my coworker’s mother a visitor visa because she had “insufficient ties” to her home country. And once you have stopped all of that, bureaucrats at home and abroad, please go fuck yourselves.

  20. WTF is the reason for a border between us and Canada, anyway? The legal line, sure, but actual guards and stuff? Sneaking crap into the U.S.–including people–is obviously easy, so I see no point. Ditto for Canada, of course.

    1. Well, it gives the US border guards a chance to harass my Canadian family, and the Canadian border guards a chance to harass my American friends. So, for scumbag sadists it’s a dream come true.

      The great part for me is the fear and distrust it engenders in my loved ones on both sides of the border. Makes deciding where to spend the holidays just that much more stressfulfun! Thanks, governments!

      1. All kidding aside, we’re almost a civil union. Canadians and Americans should be able to freely cross the border.

        1. Civil union? At this point I’m pretty sure Canada is our common-law wife.

          Which explains the hate.

          1. Canada: Why won’t he set the date, already! *sobs*

            Canada’s girlfriends: Honey, if he hasn’t popped the question by now, it’s never gonna happen. Plus, I hear he’s fucking Mexico on the side.

            Canada: Slutty Latinas.

            1. It is true that Quebec is a miscarriage from early in the relationship?

              1. Yes. But Canada is hoping to distract from that unpleasantness by keeping her girlish figure. She’ll even wear white on the wedding day, so the shame will be safely hidden, just like it never happened.

                1. Hence the Canadian national anthem, “Oh, God, Canada! Oh, God!”

                  1. They took out the God due to a concern about separation of church and state.

              2. No Quebec is the bastard son of America’s high school affair with France. Canada has been raising the effete little bastard ever since we refused to take responsibility.

        2. It used to be that way. In the 70s it was nothing to go nightclubbing or shopping in Windsor. Piece of cake for a Canadian to drive across the bridge for an NHL game.

          *sigh*

      2. See my post above at 3:28PM.

      3. My wife and I go to Montreal all the time. I have never had a problem crossing the border. Haven’t been in a couple of years. So maybe things have changed.

        And America is fucking that sleazy latina whore Mexico while plain, faithful Canada waits for us to pop the question.

      4. I think it’s telling that we now refer to Customs and Immigation officials as “border guards”.

        As recently as twenty years ago using the term “border guards” evoked images of totalitarianism not liberal democracy.

  21. You’re right, we should make Canada and honest woman.

  22. An honest woman.

    1. Why can’t we make both? Canada and the honest woman?

      1. Who is that? Costa Rica? The Czech Republic?

  23. Reid maybe ought to ask someone that handles small business lending about how well an argument like this works. I’d like to be able to film the response.

    Reid said he thought better promotion of the United States as a destination would have an immediate effect on money spent in the country, without infrastructure changes.

    “That will take care of itself,” he said. “All we need is the business.”

  24. I wish somebody would craft a constitutional amendment that explicitly forbids elected officials from using public office as a staging area for their own entrepreneurial wet dreams.

  25. If Katherine had her facts straight about the bill, we could complain — but she doesn’t. The U.S. is the only developed country without a promotion program, Americans are funding other countries’ programs against us, and since the private sector is picking up half the cost, there’s no charge to American taxpayers. Get the facts before you spout, Katherine.

    1. “The U.S. is the only developed country without a promotion program”

      Isn’t this the same argument in favor of nationalized healthcare?

      1. And for repealing the first amendment? Nobody else has that “shall make no law” thingee.

      2. And high speed trains.

    2. Mr. Harrity, The US did have a federally funded agency under the department of commerce till 1994 called the USTTA. As someone (from the private sector) who attended more than a couple of their tourism fairs overseas, I assure you it was an overwhelming waste of public resources for a less than underwhelming result. There is little reason to expect a different outcome this this time around – and incidentally, it is a fallacy that the taxpayer is not picking up the cost – the EU has promised to levy a tax on Americans in return.

  26. We should do what the Cambodians do…charge $25 to get on a plane leaving the country.

    1. Think of the potential income I squandered!

    2. The Australians do it to, only it’s $20.

      1. Of course, that’s $20 Australian so it’s only 6.50 in real money. 🙂

        Actually that was true at the time I paid it (1994), only $20 was something like $US12 then. They may have raised it since then too.

  27. half a viagra, half an hour before check-in.

  28. Still have a quarter of a million frequent flyer miles in the bank. I haven’t been on an aircraft in three years. At the rate things are going, I may never step on another.

    I’m going to figure out how to transfer my untransferable miles for cash.

  29. I agree with you James, Katherine is just over-simplifying a more detailed plan which would eventually benefit millions of Americans. And if you must know, most countries charge an “entrance fee” on top of a foreign visa fee, America doesn’t. If you want more details on the act go here: http://poweroftravel.org/statistics/media_pr.htm

  30. Oh and no money is provided by US taxpayers…

    1. Yes, I know, Wil. It’s still idiotic. This is no different than a national version of the local hotel tax; you know, the one that charges outsiders for local benefits.

      At the least the locals get a cool modern stadium out of it.

  31. Congress is brain dead.

  32. So, Harry just CAN NOT get BHO to STFU about the evils of Las Vegas…so now they’re going to tax the ones that do show up?!?!

    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE CALL IN A PSYCHIATRIST??? These buffoons are completely fucking insane and should be hung be the neck on the National Mall.

    1. Can’t. Their heads come off.

  33. One of the reasons Chicago didn’t get the Olympics is because of the deserved reputation of US visas refused for no reason, and the hassles for anyone coming into the US.

    See. There are good things from the excessive security theater. Billions of dollars were saved not having to put on that graft-laded production.

  34. You missed another great tax in the act… the act allows the government travel czar to charge a fee to be paid by any and all companies determined to be in the tourist business.

  35. There was this kid I grew up with. He was younger than me, sort of looked up to me, you know. We did our first work together, worked our way out of Hyde Park. Community organizing, race hustling, that kind of shit. Things were good, we made the most of it. When Congress finally passed Cap and Trade, we sold carbon credits to the Canadians, made a fortune — your father too.

    As much as anyone I loved him and trusted him.

    Later on he had an idea: to destroy the tourist industry at a Nevada desert stopover for overweight tourists on their way to the coast.

    That kid’s name was Harry Reid. And the city he destroyed was Las Vegas.

    This was a great man (at least in his own mind), a man of tunnel vision and a true gutless wonder. And there isn’t even a plaque or a signpost or a statue of him in that town.

    Someone put a bullet through his political career. No one knows who gave the order. When I heard it, I wasn’t angry. I knew Fast Harry, I knew he was headstrong, talking loud, saying stupid things. So when his political career turned up dead, I let it go.

    And I said to myself, This is the business we’ve chosen. I didn’t ask who gave the order. Because it had nothing to do with business.

    You have two trillion in a bag in your room. I’m going to the Lincoln Bedroom to take a nap. When I wake, if the money’s on the Oval Office desk I’ll know I have a partner. If it isn’t I’ll know I don’t.

    But don’t tell Rahm about it. If he finds out, you’ll end up in a car trunk next to Robert Gibbs out in the weeds.

  36. The tourism problem will take care of itself. Once the statists have bankrupted the nation, tourists from Switzerland and other places with real currency will come and spend a week or so in NYC for the equivalent of ten bucks in their money.

  37. I have a suggestion. Let’s call the new agency InTourist!

    1. Good one.
      Don’t think anyone under thirty will get this one though.

  38. Live just south of Myrtle Beach and they have a great travel board funded by the hotels and attractions that benefit from our visitors. It’s called free enterprise with no government jobs, no salaries or unfunded union benefits to be paid for by the taxpayer. Wow, maybe Reid’s idea is better.

  39. Sadly, more proof that to a statist, the only possible solution is more state.

    Someone should point out that charging each entrant $10 is $10 less that they have to spend here. Is the government really going to be spending it better? On Advertisement, which is notably squishy?

    1. You’re right, the government should limit itself to funding the police and the army.

      Seriously though, the US is the ONLY developed nation without a central tourism authority. Even Palestine has one.

      Sure, each customer may have 10 dollars less, but all you need to do is attract one more customer, who spends the 30 dollars to offset the loss, and you come out ahead.

      Do you think the can of coke you are drinking was not priced to cover the cost of developing the brand?

      Though you may believe America is a brand that needs no advertising, you’re hardly number one.

      Depending on what list you read, the US comes out (at best)as the number three destination worldwide, with most arrivals accounted for by business travellers.

      The TPA has recieved bipartisan support, and I’m guessing that somewhere in there, SOMEONE did a basic cost/benefit projection.

      I’m not saying that government calculations should not be scrutinised and questioned, but somehow I don’t think you’ve done that.

      Read the reports that were tendered to the House and the Senate (which are available to you), and THEN see about shooting off your armchair economist rebuttals.

      Or is an informed opinion too much to ask of a citizen?

  40. The Kenyan has to find “jobs” for all his supporters in the community. There may not be sufficient vacancies on the death panels to accommodate all the faithful who do not speak standard English so an agency that hires thousands of local tourist experts may be the answer.
    Hell, maybe we can recruit some of the writers from the NYT travel section.

  41. They should charge $20 and create more jobs. Plus Americans who don’t make an international trip at least every five years should be taxed $500, as their petty, jingoistic world view costs this country and the rest of the world a lot. If you identify yourself as sympathetic to the Tea Party, the tax should be $1,000.

  42. In response to: Hoteliers cheer Travel Promotion Act passage. William Berg commented: I fail to see how taxing people who want to visit this
    http://destinationsoftwareinc.com

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