Retaliating against the Mickey Tax

by Henry Farrell on November 12, 2009

I wrote a couple of “blog”: “posts”: last year on the Mickey Tax, or, as its promoters would prefer to describe it, the ‘Travel Promotion Act’ bill, which would seek to ‘promote’ travel to the US by imposing a fee on anyone entering the country which would in turn be handed over (after costs were deducted) to an advertising slush-fund. Now the “FT is reporting”: that the European Union is threatening to retaliate against it by imposing visas on US visitors.

bq. US plans to levy fees on European Union tourists and business travellers visiting the US have come under fire in Brussels and could prompt the EU to enact its own visa-like system for US travellers, according to diplomats. … In the past, most Europeans visiting the US for less than 90 days have not had to make pre-departure arrangements. The same applies to US visitors to the EU under visa-reciprocity guidelines. “If this tax is indeed introduced, the Commission will have to re-evaluate once again whether it is tantamount to a visa,” said a spokesman for Jacques Barrot, the commissioner for justice and home affairs, on Tuesday.

If the EU carries through on this threat, American tourists to Europe who have to pay visa fees, wait in queues at overworked consulates etc, should know who is responsible – the “Walt Disney Corporation of America”:

bq. JAY RASULO STOOD IN FRONT OF TWO MASSIVE SCREENS, each projecting his balding visage, and did what he loves to do: sell a big idea. The dapper, diminutive chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts implored 500 tourist industry executives to ask the federal government for an expensive favor. … Executives from tourism giants such as Marriott, American Express and Hertz buzzed with excitement — and skepticism. Getting taxpayers to underwrite overseas commercials had been the travel industry’s Holy Grail for decades. But the idea had never gotten very far in the councils of government. … A big lobbying push was needed for a big Ask — the term lobbyists use to describe what they are pleading for from Congress.

It’s an interesting story. When it became clear that the travel industry was unlikely to get US taxpayers to pay for a $200 million travel promotion campaign, lobbyists started looking for alternative ways of raising money – and the most obvious was to top up the industry’s own efforts with the Mickey Tax. Hence the bill, and hence the possible retaliatory measures from Europe. All thanks to Jay Rasulo and his balding visage.

Gotta change things up, keep things fresh. This video is fantastic and highly educational. It teaches you how to whittle your own 19th Century dictionary, using only string, a turnip, and a clamp. But first you have to make your own Linotype machine. It’s much easier to go here and just win one of these beautiful artifacts of book artistry. (You will have to be lucky, however.) [click to continue…]