Government Cans Travel Fee Hike

At the urging of travel industry associations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has withdrawn its plan for a 10 percent increase of fees paid by travelers entering the United States, the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) announced this week.

"Business travel decisions—particularly those related to meeting planning—are more price-driven than ever," NBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick said in a statement. "So as companies turn to business travel to help drive economic recovery over the coming year, it is important that governments don't pile on to the already overbearing tax burden faced by travelers."

The APHIS fee has increased by 61 percent since January 2005, according to NBTA, which estimates that increases already have cost businesses an additional $500 million in fees over five years. Another 10 percent increase, it pointed out, would have resulted in a 77 percent increase in fees since January 2005.

"NBTA is proud to once again stand up for over-taxed travelers," McCormick continued. "We joined with associations representing other segments of the travel and transportation industries in reaching out to APHIS, and within days the agency announced it would withdraw the fee hike. I commend USDA and APHIS officials for recognizing our concerns with the steep increases in the APHIS fee over the last five years and the tremendous burden those increases have placed on businesses. Keeping the fee in check represents a much-needed victory for international business travel to the United States."