Brand USA Reauthorization Bill Advanced by House Subcommittee

Legislation to reauthorize Brand USA – the organization that promotes the U.S. globally as a travel destination – easily cleared a markup by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce on Nov. 14. 

  • 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 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 is scheduled to expire in September 2020.
  • Subcommittee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) during the House markup of The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act (H.R. 3851) stated, “Tourism is critical to our economy and every one our communities. Overseas travelers spend more than their domestic counterparts—an average of $4,200 per trip.  It is critical that we renew Brand USA as soon as possible.”  (Rep. Pallone remarks, Nov.14)
  • In the Senate, the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation passed the “Brand USA Extension Act” on July 24.  S. 2203 would extend the federal cost-share until 2027, and increase the foreign traveler fees that pay for the federal portion.   (Roundtable Weekly, August 9)
  • 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.
  • U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Barnes noted, “International visitation to the U.S. is flat at a time when global travel is booming, which means that we are leaving a huge opportunity for economic growth on the table.  The situation would be far worse without Brand USA’s demonstrated effectiveness at bringing lucrative international visitor dollars to our shores, and House and committee leaders are to be commended for recognizing the urgency to renew Brand USA this year.” (USTA press release, Nov. 14)
  • 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).

The Visit U.S. Coalition is urging inclusion of a bipartisan Brand USA reauthorization bill in must-pass legislation before the end of the year.

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Hospitality CEOs Meet With President Trump to Advocate Reauthorization of Brand USA Program; Visa Application Process Improvements

The vital contributions to the U.S. economy and job creation by the travel and tourism industry were the focus of a meeting Tuesday between President Trump and CEOs of 13 hospitality companies, including four members of The Real Estate Roundtable. 

Among the hotel CEOs participating in the White House meeting on travel and tourism this week were former Real Estate Roundtable Chairman Chris Nassetta of Hilton, along with Roundtable members Elie Maalouf of InterContinental Hotels GroupPatrick Pacious of Choice Hotels International; and James Risoleo of Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc

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  • The White House meeting focused on ways the Trump Administration and private industry can work together to achieve travel-related economic growth.  Among the policies discussed to help improve inbound travel: expanding and enhancing secure visa policies; supporting the Brand USA destination marketing agency; the importance of international inbound travel to reduce the growing trade deficit; and transportation infrastructure — all critical to increasing both international and domestic travel. 
  • Among the hotel CEOs participating in the meeting were former Real Estate Roundtable Chairman Chris Nassetta of Hilton, along with Roundtable members  Elie Maalouf of InterContinental Hotels GroupPatrick Pacious of Choice Hotels International; and James Risoleo of Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc
  • The Visit U.S. coalition, which includes The Roundtable, is urging Congress to reauthorize Brand USA — the nation’s tourism marketing program, which is not supported by taxpayer dollars, but through fees on foreign visitors who do not require a visa when entering the U.S.  Legislation is needed to authorize the program beyond 2020 and ensure that visitor fees authorized for collection from 2021 to 2027 will not be diverted to the Treasury Department, as currently scheduled. 
  • An FY2017 return on investment analysis showed each dollar of Brand USA marketing generated almost 28 dollars in visitor spending.  Moreover, Brand USA-generated international visitor spending is estimated to have produced 486 million dollars in federal tax revenue, and another 526 million dollars in state and local tax revenue.
  • Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said, “The president is a keen listener whenever you’re talking about growing the economy, and he was receptive to the idea that travel growth can be achieved without compromising security.” 

A panel discussion at The Roundtable’s June 14 Annual Meeting focused on the travel and tourism issue.  Participants included Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Roundtable Board Member Anthony E. Malkin, Chairman and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust; USTA’s Roger Dow; and American Hotel & Lodging Association’s President and CEO Katherine Lugar.  (Roundtable Weekly, June 15, 2018.)