As Congress works to pass a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, travel industry groups want to ensure funding for Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the U.S., is included in the final legislation.
A letter sent earlier this month by the Visit U.S. Coalition, an organization of travel industry companies that depend upon international inbound travel, warned that $17.7 billion in visitor spending, $5 billion in tax revenue, and 51,000 jobs will be at risk if Brand USA is not reauthorized.
The current authorization for Brand USA (a public-private partnership) runs through 2020, but Congress diverted traveler fees used by Brand USA to the general treasury in the Balanced Budget Act of 2018.
“For the travel community, reauthorization of Brand USA remains the central priority for the remainder of the 115th Congress,” U.S. Travel Senior Vice President of Government Relations Tori Barnes wrote on the association’s website. “And thanks to the tireless work by our members and travel industry allies, our champions in Congress on both sides of the aisle, and our partners in the Visit U.S. Coalition, we are as well-positioned as we could possibly be to realize that goal, despite the fraught political landscape.”
As international travelers who qualify for the Visa Waiver Program travel to the U.S., they pay a small fee. To date, a portion of that fee has been used to fund Brand USA, and those fees have been matched 1:1 by private funding.
In 2017, Brand USA spent $140 million on its marketing expenses while generating $4.1 billion in incremental visitor spending.
According to the Visit U.S. Coalition, while travel to the U.S. has continued to grow, the U.S. has lost market share in international travel, with total long-haul travel falling from 13.6 percent in 2015 to 11.9 percent last year. That translates into $32.2 billion lost in spending by international travelers.
The Visit U.S. Coalition represents a diverse array of companies and organizations across multiple industries that depend upon international inbound travel. Its members include the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and U.S. Travel Association (USTA).