Canada escapes U.S. tourism charge...Paris goes green in May
Maybe it was our showing in Vancouver that made them take notice. Maybe not. But it's certainly good news that the U.S. will exempt Canadians from its new, $10 entry fee.
As the Star's Mitch Potter reported today, the money will help the U.S. travel industry provide $100 million to wage a global "Come To America" campaign. The $10 fee will be levied on foreign travellers from 35 countries that share visa-waiver status with America.
"It is just the way the puck bounced. Canadians alone will not pay the fee because of our special relationship. But it will apply to all other countries in the visa waiver program, including the United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea and much of western Europe," said Geoff Freeman, senior vice-president of the U.S. Travel Association.
In a report in USA Today on Friday, officials lauded the concept.
"This is an important moment in the industry that's integral to the U.S. economy," said Jonathan Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels and Chairman Emeritus of the U.S. Travel Association. "The countries we are competing with for inbound travelers are spending hundreds of millions to attract people to their shores."
The number of international visitors to the U.S. is estimated to be down to 54.3 million last year from 58 million in 2008, according to the USTA.
According to USA Today, European countries have opposed the bill, saying that it could result in retaliatory fees for Americans and fewer tourists to the U.S. Freeman says other countries' opposition is less about the $10 fee and more about competition. "The U.S. has not competed for visitors. We're about to get in the game. That scares a lot of folks around the world."
Other countries also charge similar fees for inbound visitors, but their fees are often "buried" in airline tickets, Freeman says.
It's nice for Canadians to be exempt. The U.S. also, of course, knows what a hassle it would be at the border if it stopped all the Canucks flocking to U.S. outlet stores for $10 shirts and cheap socks and underwear.
I WAS A GREEN MAN IN PARIS
With apologies to Joni Mitchell fans for that headline, I like the idea of Paris turning the Champs-Elysees over to grass and trees in May.
The plan is to clear the road of traffic and blanket it with grass, flowers and trees from May 22-24, part of an attempt to increase public awareness of sustainable development and celebrate farmers' work. I can just imagine the great cheeses and charcuterie and veggies and such. But it also would be cool to walk barefoot down what might be the most famous road in the world.
Which got me to thinking; Yonge St. is the longest (well, kind of) street on the planet, and Wall St. and Fifth Avenue in New York have a lot of cache, but so does Broadway (of which there are so many variations around the world). There's also Lombard St. in San Francisco and, if you want to get into highways, the remainder of Route 66 in the U.S. Not to mention the Trans-Canada Highway. But I wonder what would be considered the most famous street in the world? There are lots of well-known streets in Rome and London but I bet none that are as identifiable around the world as the Champs-Elysees. One potential exception just occurs to me: Sunset Blvd.in L.A. might just do the trick.
If you have any thoughts on the subject, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I might try to come up with a way to incorporate a story into the Travel section on this at a later date, just for fun. And it would give me a good excuse to check it out personally, all in the name of solid, journalistic research.
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY
From March 4 – 6 ONLY, Air Canada offers a Barbados seat sale
In celebration of Air Canada service to Barbados travelers can book their Barbados vacation exclusively on www.aircanada.com from now until March 6, 2010 and SAVE with the seat sale of the season. Travel to Barbados from Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, from $119 midweek and $139 weekend one-way.
Air Canada Two-Day Seat Sale