Brand USA to be reauthorized

Welch-Bilirakis bill to reauthorize Brand USA through 2027

Representatives Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) have introduced legislation to boost international tourism to the United States.

The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2019 (H.R. 3851) renews and fully funds the Brand USA program, a public-private partnership that promotes the United States as a travel destination for international tourists. The program is funded at no cost to taxpayers through a fee on international visitors.

“The travel and tourism industry is a key driver of the American economy,” said Welch. “Promoting the United States as a destination for international visitors will create jobs and boost the economy across the country. Our legislation renews the successful Brand USA international marketing program and locks in a stable funding source that will advance America’s reputation as a world-class tourism destination.”

“All Americans benefit from tourism, but Floridians are in a place where the industry is crucial to our economy. Brand USA has already yielded significant benefits for Floridians, and I am proud to co-lead a bipartisan effort to continue the strong trajectory towards one of the most popular travel destinations for workers, families, and globetrotters alike,” said Congressman Bilirakis.  “Just last month the national unemployment rate fell to a new 50 year low of 3.5. With tourism being the backbone of Florida’s economy, it is only common sense that we should promote job creation in this sector,” Bilirakis added. 

“The American travel community is grateful to Congressman Welch for playing a leading role in reauthorizing Brand USA, which has proven a huge benefit to the U.S. economy by attracting international visitors amid a very competitive global tourism market,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “The fact that Brand USA is a bipartisan initiative with a proven economic upside ought to make it a poster child for getting things done in Washington, and we hope the leadership in Congress finds a way to get this measure to a vote this year.”

The Welch-Bilirakis bill has over 75 bipartisan cosponsors. It would reauthorize Brand USA through 2027 and fix a funding glitch that is threatening the successful program’s existence. Specifically, a 2018 budget deal diverted its funding source to other programs. The bill creates a stable, long term funding source by increasing the international visitor user fee used to partially fund the program.

Brand USA has a strong track record of attracting international visitors to the United States. In 2018 alone, its marketing program brought 1.13 million international visitors to the United States, generating an economic impact of $8.9 billion. 

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