With the year rapidly drawing to a close, it is more important than ever for Congress to work quickly to include Brand USA’s reauthorization in must-pass legislation this year. Great strides have been made in the past few months and we believe we are well-positioned to achieve that goal.

The following is a recap of Brand USA’s progress toward renewal and a summary of the next steps our congressional champions and industry partners will take toward securing the program’s long-term reauthorization.

Legislative Action
On November 14, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act (H.R. 3851) passed the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce by a voice vote. U.S. Travel applauds the committee for doing its part to advance Brand USA’s reauthorization and for recognizing the value of international inbound travel.

“Tourism is critical to our economy and every one our communities,” said Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) during the subcommittee markup. “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.”

On July 24, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation overwhelmingly passed the “Brand USA Extension Act” (S. 2203).

Bipartisan Congressional Support
The subcommittee passage of H.R. 3851 was preceded by a hearing on the measure last month. U.S. Travel Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Barnes and Brand USA President and CEO Christopher L. Thompson testified at the October 29 hearing on the urgent need to secure Brand USA’s reauthorization in must-pass legislation this year. Subcommittee members were vocal in their support of the program, with many touting Brand USA’s benefits in their home districts.

Earlier this year, a U.S. House of Representatives “Dear Colleague” letter in support of Brand USA closed on July 31 with more than 100 signatures. The letter, addressed to House leadership, was led by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Dina Titus (D-NV) and Greg Walden (R-OR). This letter followed a Senate “Dear Colleague” letter that closed in May with nearly 50 signatures.

Industry Support
Earlier this year, more than 600 travel industry organizations signed a letter in support of Brand USA to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA). Since then, dozens of op-eds have appeared in publications around the country calling for congressional action to reauthorize Brand USA.

Some bylines include:

  • MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren for CNN
  • Atlanta CVB President and CEO William Pate, New Orleans & Company President and CEO Stephen Perry and Nashville CVC President and CEO Butch Spyridon for The Hill.
  • Delaware North Co-CEO Jerry Jacobs, Jr. for The Buffalo News.
  • VisitLEX President Mary Quinn Ramer for the Kentucky Forward
  • Visit Tampa Bay President and CEO Santiago Corrada for the Tampa Bay Times
  • Visit Wichita President and CEO Susie Santo for the Wichita Eagle
  • San Diego Tourism Authority President and CEO Joe Terzi for the Times of San Diego
  • Ohio Restaurant Association President and CEO John Barker for the Columbus Dispatch

Please click here to download a sample op-ed that can be modified to fit your destination or state’s needs.

Next steps
Following the subcommittee passage of H.R. 3851, the bill is now well-positioned to move Brand USA’s reauthorization forward this year. U.S. Travel is urging members of Congress to encourage their chamber’s leadership to include Brand USA in must-pass legislation that moves in 2019. Please click here to send an Action Alert to your member of Congress. 

U.S. Travel thanks our partners in Congress and across the industry for their continued efforts to garner support for this important program and secure its ultimate reauthorization this year—now is the time to get this done. 

Please click here to see U.S. Travel’s Renew Brand USA webpage, which includes useful information about the program and resources to encourage congressional action.