On July 23, 2013, Ed Watkins, Editor-at-Large, HotelNewsNow, hit the nail on the head when he wrote that “It’s time to take action to ensure Congress renews authorization for the country’s promotion agency.”
Brand USA was established by the Travel Promotion Act in 2010 to spearhead the nation’s first global marketing effort to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and to communicate U.S. entry/exit policies and procedures to worldwide travelers. Formed as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, the public private entity began operations in May 2011 and does business as Brand USA. It authorizes a US$10 fee on global travelers entering the U.S. from countries in the Visa Waiver program.
Ed Watkins wrote: “Those funds, together with matching cash and in-kind donations from the private sector, create a pool of up to US$100 million per year that Brand USA can spend on tourism promotion. It’s the first such scheme in the U.S., and it was long overdue, considering what other countries spend to lure tourists to their shores. And, perhaps more important, the operation of Brand USA doesn’t cost U.S. taxpayers a dime.”
Some Republican members of Congress have criticized Brand USA as a waste of taxpayer dollars that benefits mainly wealthy companies in the travel business. Republican Senator Tom Coburn (Oklahoma) and former Senator Jim DeMint (South Carolina) called Brand USA “a history of waste, abuse, patronage and lax oversight.” But supporters say that promoting tourism benefits the U.S. economy as a whole.
Ed Watkins summed up the importance of Brand USA: “It’s important that Brand USA be able to continue its work without the threat of a death penalty from Congress. And there is a way for you to help the cause. Patricia Rojas-Ungar, VP of government affairs for U.S. Travel urges everyone in the industry to talk with their elected officials about the economic power of tourism. Congress is finally getting that message, not only from what we’re saying, but they hear it when they go back home, and they’re seeing it in the economic data that shows one of the first industries to rebound from the recession has been travel.”
The author, Stanley Turkel, is a recognized authority and consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel, hospitality and consulting practice specializing in asset management, operational audits and the effectiveness of hotel franchising agreements and litigation support assignments. Clients are hotel owners, investors and lending institutions.