Brand USA, America’s tourism marketing office, greatly benefits our economy and enjoys broad bipartisan support. America’s travel community can name several reasons why it’s worth keeping.
President Trump’s budget proposes eliminating Brand USA, the agency charged with marketing the U.S. internationally as a travel destination.
That would be ill-advised. Brand USA brings millions of additional visitors to the U.S., and adds billions to the economy. It’s a public-private partnership that uses zero taxpayer dollars—and the president has previously voiced strong support for that kind of funding structure.
Brand USA was created through a bipartisan effort led by Republicans, passing both chambers of Congress with overwhelming majorities. Both Commerce Secretary Ross and OMB Director Mulvaney have previously affirmed its value.
This is why, as we have previously stated, the travel industry is perplexed that the Trump administration would want to eliminate Brand USA, a program that delivers enormous return on investment and squares directly with their stated economic priorities. Furthermore, supporting Brand USA is an easy way for the administration to reinforce a needed message of welcome to international visitors in the midst of heightened security measures.
Visitors + Spending = Jobs
Brand USA’s international marketing efforts pay off in a major way. Over the past four years, according to an independent analysis by Oxford Economics, Brand USA brought 4.3 million additional visitors in to the U.S., who spent $13.6 billion during their trips, generating nearly $4 billion in federal and state/local tax revenues and $29.5 billion in total economic impact.
The bottom line, though? Jobs. Last year, the international travelers attracted by Brand USA marketing supported 59,500 American jobs—and have supported an average of 50,900 jobs annually since its inception in 2010. That’s no small percentage of the 1.2 million domestic jobs supported each year by international travel.
Boosting Smaller Communities Across America—Without Taxpayer Funding
As previously mentioned, Brand USA is a public-private partnership—but one that doesn’t require a dime of taxpayer money. Their work is supported by a combination of revenue collected from a small fee paid by international travelers applying to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, and matching funds from over 700 partner organizations, including destinations, travel businesses and other private sector companies.
The beautiful thing about Brand USA is that it doesn’t just promote America’s major gateway cities, like New York and San Francisco. In fact, the bulk of its work is marketing smaller and medium-sized destinations across the country, including the Rust Belt, the South and the Midwest. This is crucial, because many of these areas cannot afford to promote themselves. Thanks to Brand USA’s efforts, though, many of them have seen upticks in visitation, and enjoyed all of the aforementioned economic benefits. Over the past four years, for every $1 Brand USA invests in marketing the U.S. generated $27 in return for our country's economy.
And did we mention it was all done without taxpayer money?
An Easy Way to Say “Welcome”
Without security, there can be no travel. However, U.S. Travel has also said many times that for the sake of the U.S. economy, the Trump administration must balance any new security measures with a clear, sustained message of welcome to international travelers. There’s no easier, more cost-efficient way to do that than continued support of Brand USA, whose mission is to improve America’s image abroad by sending a welcoming message to travelers, and showcasing the diversity of people and experiences here.
U.S. destinations have stepped up to the plate and launched creative “welcome” campaigns geared toward international visitors. Many of those campaigns will be on display June 3-7 in Washington, D.C. during the upcoming IPW conference, which U.S. Travel is partnering with Brand USA and Destination DC to produce. With all of these messages of welcome practically in his backyard, it’s hard to see how President Trump could ignore this opportunity to allow Brand USA to continue its excellent work for his administration.