Published on : Saturday, April 5, 2014
Following a year in which Brand USA generated 1.1 million visitors who would not have traveled to the United States without the agency’s marketing efforts, Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the budget committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, released a proposed budget that does not include funding for Brand USA.
In the same proposal, Ryan’s budget calls for the U.S. Department of Transportation to cut spending on road and transit projects. The recommended reduction in the department’s Highway Trust Fund comes a time when NTA and other leaders in the travel industry are calling for increased funding for the nation’s infrastructure.
“This budget would take travelers—and the U.S. economy—in the wrong direction,” said Steve Richer, NTA’s public affairs advocate. “It makes no sense to cut off a successful marketing program as well as much-needed funds for bridge repairs and safe, efficient highways.”
Richer said NTA advocates for reauthorization of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, the funding vehicle for Brand USA.
“Brand USA has achieved a fantastic ROI—close to 50 to 1—in only four years of existence, and the U.S has reversed some negative travel trends in countries where Brand USA is promoting travel to this country,” Richer said. “It’s counterintuitive to axe a program that brings so much revenue and provides so many jobs.”
Along with funding for Brand USA and increased funding for the Federal Highway Trust Fund, NTA recommends increased funds for U.S. national parks and public lands and the passage of the JOLT Act (Jobs Originated through Launching Tourism). JOLT is geared to increase overseas visitors and includes provisions to reduce visa wait times, increase visa-interview opportunities and expand the Visa Waiver Program.
NTA members will gather in Washington, D.C., this summer to meet with legislators on Capitol Hill and discuss key issues that affect the tourism industry. The 2014 Congressional Travel Fly-in will be held June 23 to 25.
In 2013, NTA was a leading advocate for the travel and tourism industry during the U.S. government’s partial shutdown. The closure of national parks and other attractions was disastrous for Chinese travelers visiting the United States. Following two weeks of shutdown-related financial loss suffered by NTA members, the association’s then-president, Lisa Simon, testified at a Congressional hearing about the closures.