by Peter Clerkin
Common Ground profiles members of opposing parties who are working together to advance issues important to hoteliers.
Brand USA is a vital public-private partnership that promotes the entire United States as a destination to international travelers. Funded with fees collected from international travelers and matched dollar for dollar by the travel industry, this program operates at no cost to American taxpayers. Since its inception in 2013, Brand USA helped bring more than 6.6 million travelers to the U.S. and generated $47.7 billion for the American economy. This works out to a $25 to $1 ROI. Without congressional reauthorization, Brand USA’s funding stream will revert to a general fund in 2020, and there is no guarantee that it will be used to fund the program’s successful efforts to enhance the country’s reputation abroad while encouraging the world to come experience the best America can to offer.
In late October, the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on H.R. 3851, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2019, to extend the funding for Brand USA through 2027 while increasing the fee that international visitors that use the electronic system for travel authorization. Subcommittee Chair Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Ranking Member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) both endorsed its passage while McMorris Rodgers touted the program’s importance in driving tourism to areas outside big cities. The bill enjoys broad bipartisan support and currently has 119 cosponsors.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
First Elected: 1998
“Brand USA was authorized to work directly with the United States’ tourism and travel industry to maximize the social and economic benefits of travel. I am sure that all of my colleagues here would agree that their lives have been enriched by their own travels, and we all appreciate tourists coming to our district and experiencing what we each love so much about the districts we represent. Brand USA has been great for Chicago, so I am excited to make sure that the program is reauthorized.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
First Elected: 2004
“Brand USA is a vital program to attract foreign visitors to the U.S. at no cost to taxpayers. [The] focus on bringing tourism to areas like Eastern Washington is spurring economic growth, and it’s creating excitement around other parts of the country outside of the big city gateways.”