Brand USA renewal included in large spending bill

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Brand USA CEO Chris Thompson and the U.S. Travel Association's Tori Emerson Barnes at a November legislative hearing on reauthorizing Brand USA.
Brand USA CEO Chris Thompson and the U.S. Travel Association's Tori Emerson Barnes at a November legislative hearing on reauthorizing Brand USA.

Congress has reauthorized Brand USA, the nation’s tourism-marketing organization, through 2027. 

Brand USA, whose funding had been scheduled to expire next year, survived via a reauthorization measure included in a large end-of-year spending bill the Senate approved Thursday. President Donald Trump intends to sign it.

U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow said the renewal signals that “smart, bipartisan policymaking that generates economic value and jobs is alive and well in Washington.” 

“Brand USA’s work to boost international visitation is absolutely essential to the U.S. trade balance, and the fact that it operates without sending American taxpayers a bill make it a model public-private partnership that delivers proven results,” he said in a statement. “Congress should be widely applauded for this move by anyone who cares about the U.S. economy and trade.”

U.S. Travel has been lobbying for Brand USA’s reauthorization since 2017, when the Trump administration proposed to eliminate its funding. The organization, established by Congress in 2010 as a public-private partnership, is funded by contributions from its more than 700 partner organizations and matched with fees paid by international travelers who come to the U.S. via the Visa Waiver Program. As part of the reauthorization, those fees will increase from $10 to $17. 

Brand USA’s champions assert that as the U.S. loses global travel market share, global promotion is needed more than ever. U.S. Travel executive vice president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes told a congressional subcommittee last month that the U.S. share of the global travel market had dropped from 13.7% in 2015 to just 11.7% in 2018, a hit to the economy of about $60 billion in spending and 120,000 American jobs.

“If nothing is done, our market share will continue to erode and is projected to fall below 11% by 2021,” she said. “This is why it is crucial for Congress to reauthorize Brand USA this year.”

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