Congress Seeks Extension of Brand USA

A bipartisan group of 25 U.S. senators has introduced a bill to reauthorize Brand USA, a public-private partnership established in 2010 to promote international travel to the United States, the U.S. Travel Association reported yesterday.

The bill, the “Travel Promotion, Enhancement and Modernization Act,” would extend Brand USA — America’s first-ever global consumer brand — through 2020.

“From hotels and diners to recreation and shopping, tourism gives a huge boost to businesses and local economies in communities all across the country,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said in a statement. “More international visitors to the United States means new customers for our businesses, more jobs for our workers and stronger growth for our economy. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that Brand USA can continue to attract visitors from around the world who will help support businesses and communities all across the United States.”

Brand USA is funded by international visitors and private contributions — not U.S. taxpayers. Half of its budget comes from the private sector through cash and in-kind contributions. The rest — up to a maximum of $100 million — is funded by a fee assessed on visa-free international visitors screened by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

“Travel and tourism are critical industries for economic growth and private sector job creation in Missouri and nationwide,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “This commonsense bipartisan bill will enhance and modernize Brand USA so it can continue to promote increased international travel to the U.S. and bring revenue and jobs to communities across the nation.”

A recent study by Oxford Economics found that Brand USA’s marketing campaigns generated 1.1 million incremental visitors to the United States for the year ended Sept. 30, 2013 — an increase of 2.3 percent above and beyond growth that would have occurred without Brand USA marketing. These additional visitors, the study found, spent $3.4 billion in the United States.

“We have the evidence that states and communities stand to benefit immensely from the renewal of this tested, proven program,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “We look forward to working closely with Hill offices to pass this legislation this year.”

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