The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce passed legislation to reauthorize Brand USA, the official organization tasked with promoting the United States as a global travel destination. Funding for Brand USA is set to expire in 2020 due to a 2018 congressional agreement that will divert funds to general revenue.
In September, CEOs from major travel companies such as American Express, Carnival Cruise Line and Hilton signed a letter supporting the reauthorization of Brand USA.
Calls to reinstate funding for Brand USA cite the nation's declining international travel market. The U.S. Travel Association reports that international inbound travel fell 0.4 percent in September, declining for the fifth month this year. According to the association, the drop in U.S. global long-haul travel since 2015 is said to represent economic losses of 14 million international visitors, $59 billion in international traveler spending and 120,000 American jobs.
Tori Barnes, executive vice president for public affairs and policy at the U.S. Travel Association, issued a statement thanking House speaker Nancy Pelosi and minority leader Kevin McCarthy for supporting the reauthorization bill. She urged Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer to do the same and make Brand USA a legislative priority for 2020.
"The Brand USA legislation is fundamentally a U.S. jobs and exports bill, and today the House took another huge step toward boosting both by advancing the reauthorization measure closer to passage," said Barnes in the statement. "International visitation to the U.S. is flat at a time when global travel is booming, which means that we are leaving a huge opportunity for economic growth on the table. The situation would be far worse without Brand USA's demonstrated effectiveness at bringing lucrative international visitor dollars to our shores, and House and committee leaders are to be commended for recognizing the urgency to renew Brand USA this year."