After a years-long battle, Brand USA, the nation's official tourism marketing organization, has been reauthorized. Funding for the organization was due to expire in 2020 but has now been secured through 2027 thanks to Congress, which included a reauthorization measure in its end-of-year spending package.
The move comes after much lobbying from the travel industry. In May, members of the U.S. Travel Association's CEO Roundtable issued a public statement urging Congress to renew funding for Brand USA. Top travel CEOs from InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and more also signed a letter in September pushing for action on its reauthorization.
Brand USA is said to create 52,000 jobs annually and has been recognized as contributing $47.7 billion to the U.S. economy since 2013. Supporters hope reauthorization will help curb the nation's continued decline in international inbound travel, which has decreased for five consecutive months this year.
Co-sponsors of the Brand USA reauthorization bill include senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and U.S. representatives Peter Welch (D-VT), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Dina Titus (D-NV) and Greg Walden (R-OR).
"By approving Brand USA, Congress sends a clear message to the American people: Smart, bipartisan policymaking that generates economic value and jobs is alive and well in Washington," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, in a statement. "Brand USA's work to boost international visitation is absolutely essential to the U.S. trade balance, and the fact that it operates without sending American taxpayers a bill makes it a model public-private partnership that delivers proven results. Congress should be widely applauded for this move by anyone who cares about the U.S. economy and trade."