Citing that the program drives $21 billion in business sales and 2 million jobs, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) on Tuesday urged Congress to support Brand USA, a public-private partnership that promotes international travel to the U.S.
“Travel and tourism is a critical driver of the U.S. economy, generating $2.3 trillion in economic output and responsible for one in nine American jobs. That’s why we are concerned that the Administration’s budget proposal eliminates federal funding for Brand USA, a public-private partnership that has been a catalyst responsible for driving more than 4.4 million incremental international visitors to the U.S. and supports thousands of American jobs,” said Katherine Lugar, AHLA president and CEO.
The program was created by Congress in 2010, began operating in 2011, and has had bi-partisan support. Funded through visa fees every year, Congress voted in 2014 to reauthorize the program until 2020. Last year alone, Brand USA’s marketing efforts resulted in more than 1 million additional U.S. visitors and $4.1 billion in visitor spending.
Lugar commented further: “In the last several years, Brand USA has been a powerful force in providing America with a competitive edge and has served as a highly successful promotional program attracting millions of visitors from countries near and far. The program boosts the U.S. economy as Brand USA results in nearly $32 billion in total economic impact, contributes nearly $4 billion in federal, state, and local taxes, and supports an average of nearly 50,000 incremental jobs a year—jobs that cannot be exported and which extend well beyond the travel industry.”
Lugar continued: “The program has had long-lasting and overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress, across all travel sectors. With travel season upon us, it is important for lawmakers to understand the benefits of this program. We need Brand USA’s strong marketing message to remind visitors that the U.S. is open for business.
“As the economy picks up steam, now is the time to ensure the vital economic contributions made by the tourism industry to the nation’s GDP remain strong. We look forward to actively engaging with both key officials in the Administration and Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill to encourage them to keep Brand USA intact and ensure certainty and economic stability,” Lugar concluded.