President Donald Trump’s new budget seeks to eliminate Brand USA and shift the resulting revenue to Customs and Border Protection.
In a written release U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow criticized the move, saying that “unilaterally disarming the marketing of the U.S. as a travel destination would be to surrender market share at the worst possible time. It's especially perplexing that the elimination of Brand USA is on the table when both Commerce Secretary Ross and OMB Director Mulvaney each have supported it previously.”
Dow noted that the creation of Brand USA was a bipartisan effort led by Republicans that passed both chambers of Congress. Last year the agency added $8.9 billion to the U.S. economy, according to Oxford Economics statistics cited by Dow. Additionally, Brand USA is not funded by taxpayer money, reduces the deficit by $50 million, and eliminating it would increase the federal deficit, according to the Office of Management and Budget, Dow said.
"With international visitation being the country's No. 2 export supporting 15 million American jobs, we're struggling to understand how cutting Brand USA squares with this administration's stated priorities," Dow said.
According to USA Today, the Trump administration is set to deliver the budget to Congress on Tuesday, after which Congress could spend months debating the proposals.
“It makes zero economic sense to scrap a bipartisan program that encourages international tourists to visit the U.S.,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla, told USA Today. “It’s especially important for jobs in Florida and other tourism dependent states.”
The proposal is the latest in a series of warning signs for inbound tourism to the United States. Late last week the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) forecast a $1.3 billion loss in overall travel-related expenditures in the United States this year, blaming political instability ranging from the Brexit vote to the Trump administration’s travel ban and ban on large electronics in airline cabins.