WASHINGTON – A July Senate bill was introduced to allow for funding of Brand USA, the organization responsible for marketing the U.S. as an international travel destination, through 2027.
Previously set to expire in 2020, the bill’s reauthorization was brought forth by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV). The reauthorization would allow for the renewal of Brand USA marketing efforts, which include communicating U.S. visa and entry policies – helpful for trade show attendees who are traveling from abroad and who seek an easy and efficient entry process.
“This is smart policymaking in support of a proven program that will help sustain our economic expansion for years to come without cost to taxpayers,” Roger Dow, President of U.S. Travel, said in a written statement.
Lobbying for Brand USA at this summer’s annual Exhibitions Day, an advocacy event on Capitol Hill, was a top priority for the trade show industry. A delegation of industry executives from across the nation urged members of Congress to address various matters affecting trade shows.
Brand USA’s operations are supported by a combination of non-federal contributions from destinations, travel brands, and private-sector organizations, plus matching funds collected by the U.S. government from international visitors who visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.
“A major selling point for Brand USA is that it does not depend on government funding,” said Gabrielle Weiss, Publisher and Editor of Trade Show Executive, who took part in the Exhibitions Day mission. “Taxpayers don’t have to pay for a program, which certainly appeals to the elected officials and staff we met with. Passing this bill and reauthorizing Brand USA would be a huge win for the industry.”
This legislative effort comes at a critical time for the travel industry, according to U.S. Travel. International travel grew a paltry 1.2% in May while the United States’ share of the international travel market slipped from 13.7% in 2015 to its current 11.7%.
The reauthorization bill sailed through its first legislative step with a unanimous vote in favor of it taking place in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which is chaired by Blount, on July 24. No further discussions or votes were immediately scheduled on the bill, or its companion measure in the House of Representatives.
Congress tried to pass a reauthorization bill in 2018, but ran out of time, requiring the legislation to be reintroduced this year. Tori Barnes, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy, for U.S. Travel, told Trade Show Executive: “The bipartisan bills in both the House and Senate bill are very important steps towards reauthorization, but we must continue to build awareness about the urgency of Brand USA’s work in the competitive global travel environment. That said, we are as well-positioned as we could possibly be to get Brand USA reauthorized for the long term.”