ATA opposes international traveller fee

James C. May, president and CEO of ATA has testified before the Senate
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on the proposed
“Blueprint to Discover America” initiative.May’s testimony highlighted concerns about the proposed
program, intended to boost travel to the United States, which would
impose additional taxes and fees on airline passengers. While he
acknowledged the importance of promoting the United States as a travel
destination, he opposed any additional funding schemes, insisting that
the goals of the proposed program can be achieved without added fees.


        “Our airlines are eager to bring more international
visitors to America so they can experience first hand what we already
know - that America is a great country to do business with, and to
visit,” May said. “While I appreciate a warm welcome, it is really hard
for me to support charging passengers a $5 fee to purchase a smile and a

        May pointed out that $50-per-passenger fees paid by
visitors to the United States in 2006 generated $3.3 billion to $3.7
billion - more than adequate to fund the proposed initiatives, many of
which are already under development by various government agencies.



ATA strongly supports the current efforts of the State Department,
Department of Homeland Security and Commerce Department to improve
services for international travelers. May urged the administration to
redouble its efforts and to pursue those undertakings with vigor. In
addition, May stressed the importance of streamlining processes, such as
visa application and customs screening, through the use of new


        “ATA strongly favors securing America’s borders,” said May.
“And we are sensitive to the need to balance the sometimes competing
interests of security and ease of travel.”