US TO START CHARGING FOR TOURIST ENTRY
European travellers to the US will have to pay an extra $14 from next month for electronic visas. The visas, known as an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (Esta), have been compulsory for UK tourists and other European visitors since January 2009.
At present, they are free, but from September 8, the US will start charging $14, or around £9 based on the current exchange rates.
The move has been criticised by the European Union, which said it could deter or complicate travel.
Consumer groups are advising people planning a trip to the US to apply now, before the new charge comes into force.
The Esta lasts for two year, or until a personís passport expires.
Visit USA said although it did not support any taxes on tourism, it was relieved at the price set.
"We had expected it to be around $17-20, so we were pleasantly surprised that it is $14, which comes in at around less than £10 a head with the exchange rate," said a spokesman.
He said agents should warn customers that there are bogus websites around charging higher rates.
"Agents could benefit their customers by offering advice and referring them to our website to avoid being ripped off," he said.
Remember to only use the official ESTA web site to register for your Travel Visa