Travel industry organizations are calling for action on a newly introduced bill in the Senate to continue funding for Brand USA, the U.S. destination marketing organization. The legislation, which was introduced by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) reauthorizes Brand USA's funding mechanism through 2027. Without this reauthorization, Brand USA’s funding will expire in 2020.
"The renewal of Brand USA is critical to driving American jobs and exports, as well as travelers throughout the country," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow in a written statement. "This is smart policymaking in support of a proven program that will help sustain our economic expansion for years to come without cost to taxpayers.”
“Brand USA brings millions of visitors to the U.S., and customers to our hotels, restaurants, and retail stores,” said Andrea Riccio, a spokesperson for the Visit U.S. Coalition, an organization that represents a cross-section of industries that have come together to address the decline in international travelers to the United States. “Renewal of the program has clear economic benefits and will support jobs in cities and towns across the country.”
Brand USA was created in 2010 as a destination marketing organization funded through a fee paid by incoming foreign travelers under the Visa Waiver Program, which is then matched by contributions from the private sector. It is operated at no cost to the taxpayer, both organizations said.
According to statistics cited by both U.S. Travel and the Visit U.S. Coalition, the U.S. share of the global travel market has fallen from 13.7 percent in 2015 to its current level of 11.7 percent. That decline represents a difference of 14 million visitors and a loss to the economy of $59 billion in spending and 120,000 American jobs, U.S. Travel added.
According to an Oxford Economics study cited by U.S. Travel, Brand USA’s marketing efforts over the past six years have generated 6.6 million incremental international visitors to the U.S.; $22 billion in visitor spending; $47.7 billion in total economic I pact; and support for an average of 52,000 incremental American jobs every year.