More than 300 business leaders from every U.S. state Thursday sent a letter to U.S. senators and House and Senate leadership urging immediate passage of S. 2250 to reauthorize Brand USA – America's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing inbound international travel. The companion bill, H.R. 4450, passed the House of Representatives 347-57 in July.
Enacted in 2010 through the bipartisan Travel Promotion Act, Brand USA is an integrated marketing and communications program that promotes international travel to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The program is financed entirely by foreign visitors and the travel industry. Brand USA does not take any funds from U.S. taxpayer.
Signers of the new letter include public and private entities from throughout the travel sphere, including: American Express Company; Avis Budget Group; Best Western International; Expedia, Inc.; Hilton Worldwide; the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism; the Nevada Commission on Tourism; Marriott International; Texas Office of the Governor, Economic Development & Tourism; and the Utah Office of Tourism.
"During 2013, Brand USA's worldwide marketing campaigns generated 1.1 million incremental visitors to the United States—a 2.3 percent increase that generated an additional $3.4 billion in revenues," the letter reads. "This spending generated $7.4 billion in business sales, $3.8 billion in GDP and $2.2 billion in personal income, as well as supporting 53,000 new jobs. That equates to a remarkable return on investment of 47 to one. And all of this is already being accomplished at no expense to the U.S. taxpayer."
It continues: "Travel is already America's top services export. International visitors spent $180.7 billion in the U.S. on travel-related goods and services last year, an increase of more than nine percent over 2012. U.S. travel exports now account for over 26 percent of all U.S. service exports and nearly eight percent of total U.S. exports."
U.S. Travel President Roger Dow noted that in the three years of Brand USA's existence, its promotion of the United States to other nations has brought in an extra 1 million international travelers. "The massive tax revenues, the creation of unexportable jobs, and the positive contribution to our trade balance are all tremendous economic opportunities felt by communities large and small across the country.
"We urge Congress to enact this legislation during the lame-duck session, so Brand USA can be reauthorized and its economic promise and benefits can continue."