With international visitors to the U.S. declining, now is not the time to lose Brand USA, the public-private partnership that promotes the U.S. as a travel destination to the rest of the world, according to a coalition of travel and business associations.
The Visit U.S. Coalition is circulating a sign-on letter urging lawmakers to reauthorize Brand USA, the public-private partnership established by Congress to market and promote the United States as a destination.
According to the letter, Brand USA has proven effective in drawing international visitors to the U.S., working with more than 800 partner organizations to generate $17.7 billion in visitor spending and $5 billion in tax revenue since fiscal year 2013. Enacted as part of the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, Brand USA is funded by a portion of a fee assessed from international visitors coming to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), along with matching funds from the private sector travel industry.
The Visit U.S. Coalition—which includes ASAE as a founding member, along with the U.S. Travel Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and several other travel and business organizations—points out in the letter that “Brand USA’s future has been unintentionally placed at risk” by a 2018 budget caps agreement that diverted the organization’s revenue from VWP fees.
“While this transition was not intended to undermine Brand USA’s strong performance, this financial insecurity places the future planning and progress of travel promotion for communities rural and urban across the United States at risk,” the letter states. “Without this funding, private sector partners of Brand USA are limited, and in some cases deterred, from marketing to highly valued international travelers.”
While travel is up in many countries around the world, the U.S. share of global travel is declining for the first time in a decade, according to statistics from the U.S. Travel Association and the Visit U.S. Coalition. The U.S. share of global long-haul travel declined from 13.6 percent in 2015 to 12.9 percent in 2016 and fell further, to 11.9 percent, in 2017, marking its lowest point since 2010.