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Senate Committee Advances Legislation to Reauthorize “Brand USA” Tourism Marketing Program

  • August 21, 2019

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on July 24 overwhelmingly passed  S. 2203 , the Brand USA Extension Act  to reauthorize the organization that promotes the U.S. globally as a travel destination. 

Brand USA - RW

Brand USA is a public-private partnership  that attracts international travelers to the U.S. to encourage tourism spending at America's hospitality, retail, attraction and other properties.  The Brand USA marketing organization operates at no expense to taxpayers.  Private sector contributions fund the program, matched by U.S. government fees collected from foreign visitors who enjoy visa-free entry to the U.S.

  • Brand USA is a public-private partnership  that attracts international travelers to the U.S. to encourage tourism spending at America's hospitality, retail, attraction and other properties.  The Brand USA marketing organization operates at no expense to taxpayers.  Private sector contributions fund the program, matched by U.S. government fees collected from foreign visitors who enjoy visa-free entry to the U.S. 
  • The federal portion of Brand USA funding runs out next year.  S. 2203 would extend the federal cost-share until 2027, and increase the foreign traveler fees that pay for the federal portion. 
  • The bill's bipartisan co-sponsors are Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Lindsey Grahan (R-SC), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).  Nearly 50 senators signed-onto a bipartisan May 2019 "Dear Colleague" letter to support reauthorizing and extending Brand USA
  • The Real Estate Roundtable is part of the Visit U.S. Coalition which advocates for Brand USA reauthorization.  The coalition, led by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, also includes the American Resort Development Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The importance of international travel to the domestic economy, job growth, and CRE was the focus of a panel discussion during The Roundtable's 2018 Annual Meeting. (Roundtable Weekly, June 15, 2018). 
  • study released last year shows that Brand USA's marketing efforts brought in 6.6 million incremental international visitors to the U.S. between 2013 and 2018, at a return-on-investment of $28 in visitor spending for every $1 the agency spent on marketing. 
  • S. 2203 is introduced at a crucial time, as recent travel trend figures forecast steady declines in the U.S.'s share of the international travel market through at least 2022.   The decline in market share represents estimated losses to the domestic economy of 14 million international visitors, $59 billion in international traveler spending and 120,000 U.S. jobs. (USTA news release, Aug. 1) 
  • Other travel policy legislation is pending in the House.  Reps. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Tom Rice (R-SC) on April 9 reintroduced the bipartisan Jobs Originating through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2019 (H.R. 2187) to improve national security, increase international tourism, and reform visa laws.  (Roundtable Weekly, April 26, 2019) 

When Congress returns from its summer recess on Sept. 9, policymakers will face the task of setting FY'20 federal appropriations for individual agencies and departments - before current funding runs out on September 30.  It is uncertain which individual programs such as Brand USA could be addressed within these funding bills, or whether Congress will need to pass an extension of current funding levels via a "Continuing Resolution."  (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 2)

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