ASTA and the Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA) have filed comments with the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, requesting that it show restraint in implementing increases in passport fees. The State Department recently proposed an increase in the cost of new passports (up from $100 to $135) and passport renewals (up from $75 to $110).
“As was confirmed with the recent signing of the Travel Promotion Act by President Obama, America’s travel industry is in desperate need of an economic infusion,” said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo. “Contrary to the belief that increasing passport fees serves to keep travel spending contained within the United States, the reality is that when an American chooses not to travel abroad, U.S.-owned airlines, tour operators, hotel chains and car rental are all harmed.”
In their comments, ASTA and ITSA said:
While the economy is beginning to show signs of life, it is early days and we have a long way to go before travel returns to anything resembling sustainable growth. This is, therefore, an especially poor time to increase the cost of travel. Respectfully, it is definitely not the time to impose outsized increases in the fee burden for new and repeat travelers which are the groups most affected by the proposed fee increases ranging from 27 percent for an adult passport book, 100 percent for the security surcharge, to an infinite increase (0$ to $82) in the cost of new pages. Increases of the amounts proposed will place the government at cross-purposes with itself, working, on the one hand, to stimulate business and support the special needs of small businesses for capital and cash flow and, on the other hand, de-stimulating travel by adding costs to the essential instruments of international movement.
Travel can be a natural stimulus, driving economic growth and job creation. The last thing that should be done is increasing prices, and thereby the chances of dampening this engine of growth, in a severe recession, ASTA said.
In conclusion, ASTA and ITSA strongly urged the Department of State “to reconsider the magnitude of the fee increases proposed and moderate them in light of the overriding need of the travel industry for a compelling, stimulative economic policy at this time.