NTA Questions House Vote to Defund Brand USA

NTA reports it is asking U.S. representatives to re-evaluate their elimination of Brand USA, the nation’s first tourism advertising and marketing campaign targeting visitors from overseas markets. Funding for Brand USA was terminated in the budget bill passed last week by the U.S. House of Representatives, NTA says.

“Losing Brand USA would be a blow to U.S. inbound marketing efforts that are important to creating jobs, boosting the national economy and helping all of our members who benefit from overseas visitors,” said Lisa Simon, NTA president. “NTA shares the goals of Brand USA and fully supports the organization.”

On a strictly partisan vote on March 29, the House adopted a budget for fiscal year 2013 that would defund and eliminate Brand USA, created in 2010 as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, NTA notes.

"If passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law, the bill would bring an end to the $100 million in matching funds used by Brand USA to market United States destinations internationally. Funding for the program is derived from fees paid by international visitors from visa-waiver countries when entering the United States; that amount is matched by private sector investment, " NTA said.

Passage of the budget bill, House Congressional Resolution 112, is viewed as unlikely due to opposition in the United States Senate, NTA said. But any change in control of the Senate and the White House as a result of the November election would set up a scenario where the bill could become law in 2013.

“NTA will work with other travel sector organizations, including the U.S. Travel Association, to educate the representatives who voted for this budget. Many of them were co-sponsors of the bill that created Brand USA: the Travel Promotion Act of 2010,” said Simon. “This is a good time to re-emphasize the importance of tourism so the elimination of Brand USA will not be part of future versions of the budget.”

Simon said that members interested in engaging their representatives can attend the Grassroots Congressional Travel Summit in Washington, D.C., May 8 to 10, hosted by NTA with the Southeast Tourism Society and Destination Marketing Association International.

Co-sponsoring organizations are the American Bus Association, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, American Society of Travel Agents, Interactive Travel Services Association, Student Youth Travel Association, U.S. Travel Association, United Motorcoach Association, and Western States Tourism Policy Council.

Brand USA is set to launch its first marketing campaign in May. The NTA said the need for a national marketing effort became apparent when the United States’ share of the global travel market decreased from 17.3 percent in 2000 to 11.2 percent in 2010.

Formerly known as the National Tour Association, NTA members are tour operators, suppliers and destination marketing organizations from more than 40 countries.

Visit www.ntaonline.com.