Brand USA is one step closer to survival after a House subcommittee on Thursday overwhelmingly passed legislation to reauthorize the tourism-marketing organization.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce passed the bill, which also calls for an increase on fees paid by international travelers from Visa Waiver Program countries from $10 to $17. A portion of the Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA) fees are used to fund Brand USA. 

U.S. Travel executive vice president for public affairs and policy Tori Barnes said that with the U.S. losing share in the global inbound travel market, renewing Brand USA was critical. 

"International visitation to the U.S. is flat at a time when global travel is booming, which means that we are leaving a huge opportunity for economic growth on the table," Barnes stated. "The situation would be far worse without Brand USA’s demonstrated effectiveness at bringing lucrative international visitor dollars to our shores."

The Airlines for America trade group opposed the measure for raising the ESTA fee and spending money on marketing instead of security. 

"We urge Congress to prioritize security and ensure that all ESTA fees currently collected be available for Customs and Border Protection to accomplish necessary security functions," Airlines for America said in a statement. "It is unnecessary to spend scarce resources on marketing when travel to and within the U.S. continues to reach record levels. As we prepare for a record 31.6 million passengers this Thanksgiving travel period, resources are already stretched thin."

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