Photo: Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock

Some Countries Are Paying Their People to Travel Again, and the US Might Follow Suit

by Eben Diskin May 26, 2020

There’s a lot of talk right now about Japan and Sicily enticing overseas travelers by covering the cost of their trip, but for many countries, domestic tourism will be the first major step toward reviving the economy.

To jumpstart tourism, countries around the world are offering to shoulder the financial burden of travelers’ expenses. Italy is offering “holiday bonuses” to lower-income families to encourage visits to hotels, campgrounds, and beach resorts. In Poland, the government is considering issuing travel vouchers to citizens, for use at sporting events, exhibitions, and other entertainment venues. Peru’s Machu Picchu will be reopening in July with free admission for lower-income Peruvian families. Even though the US is still struggling with the virus, it is considering a similar approach to make domestic tourism appealing this year.

The US Travel Association (USTA) and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) have both called for tax credits for every American family to encourage domestic travel. In a new policy proposal, the USTA floated the idea of a “tax credit worth 50 percent of qualified travel expenses incurred in the U.S. between enactment and December 2021, up to a maximum tax credit of $4,000 per household.”

There’s no doubt that Americans are eager to travel, but many are finding it financially difficult to do so. According to Tori Emerson Barnes, the USTA’s executive vice president of public affairs and policy, “We want people to book travel, to get excited by it. One of the things we think about in the current environment is the lack of anticipation, the lack of something happy to look forward to … [it’s] really another crippling effect from a psychological perspective of the crisis.”

On Monday, President Trump expressed support for an “Explore America” tax credit, though no specifics have been outlined.

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