Nearly 600 organizations representing all 50 states
delivered a letter to Congress on Thursday, urging a renewal of Brand USA and its
funding this year.
Brand USA's funding was inadvertently
diverted in the Balanced Budget Act of 2018.
The Visit U.S. Coalition, an organization created last January to address the decline in inbound travel growth, organized and
delivered the letter to Capitol Hill. In
it, the signatories say that Brand USA, the public-private partnership
established to market the U.S. as an international travel destination, is critical to their businesses. They include multinational corporations, tourism bureaus from coast to
coast as well as restaurants and attractions.
The Visit the U.S. Coalition warned that if Congress fails
to renew Brand USA and its budget, $17.7 billion in visitor spending, $5
billion in tax revenue, and 51,000 American jobs are at risk.
"Brand USA promotes destinations both large and small,
from Alabama to Wyoming," said Visit U.S. Coalition spokesman Amos Snead. "Reauthorizing
Brand USA funding this year will help all sectors of our economy, from
retailers to restaurants, at every level of employment. People across the globe
are traveling now more than ever, but the marketplace for their visits is
hyper-competitive. As we look to continue the U.S. economy's upward trajectory,
we need Brand USA to continue communicating abroad that America is the premier
destination for international travelers."
Brand USA is funded by a $10 portion of the $14 Electronic
System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) fee paid by international travelers who
come to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. The Brand USA portion is
matched by private sector members.
In October, 70 members of Congress asked House speaker
Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to restore
funding for Brand USA after 2020.