Leverage is wonderful when it's working in your favor, and it looks like it's working for Brand USA, which markets and promotes the U.S. to foreign visitors.
As we report in the news pages this week, Brand USA (officially, the Corporation for Travel Promotion) leveraged federal funds and industry contributions to generate increased visitation and $3.4 billion in incremental visitor spending from the eight international markets where it was fully operational during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2013.
That additional international visitor spending directly or indirectly supported more than 53,000 U.S. jobs and generated close to $1 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue.
According to an analysis by Tourism Economics, this translates to a marketing ROI (return on investment) of 47-to-1, meaning that every marketing dollar spent by Brand USA produced $47 in visitor spending.
Clearly this is good news, but the more relevant question may be: Is it good enough for Congress?
Brand USA was created by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, with a funding source that provides $100 million a year in available matching funds up to fiscal year 2015. It's not too early for Brand USA and the U.S. travel industry to start making the case that this enterprise needs to continue.
We think the government made the right decision in 2009, but we know there are still people in Congress who don't believe the government should be involved in tourism promotion.
We remain hopeful that they can be impressed by the power of leverage.