It may seem strange that the USA had no coordinated national marketing and advertising campaign to promote tourism and bring visitors to the United States until 2010. The Brand USA national marketing campaign promotes the United States to international audiences. The reality is tourism is a big deal to the U.S., in 2010, direct spending by domestic and international travellers in the U.S. was $759 billion and generated an estimated economic impact of $1.8 trillion. One out of nine jobs in the U.S. depend on travel and tourism, and travel ranks as the Number 1 among U.S. industry exports.
Why is this a big deal?
Last week along partisan lines, the House of Representatives adopted a federal budget for 2013 that would chop the Brand USA’s funding. If it were passed by the Senate, $100 million in matching funds for Brand USA to market U.S. destinations in international markets would have been cut. The planned cut has failed thanks to Democrats in the U.S. Senate, who announced last week that the Senate for the third consecutive year would not be voting on or passing a budget in 2012.
Many in the travel industry believe that an effort like Brand USA is an increasing necessity for the U.S. in the international marketplace, especially when considering the United States’ share of global travel plummeted from 17% in 2000 to 11% in 2010.
A public-private partnership, Brand USA is part of the Travel Promotion Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010. It was officially launched for Travel Promotion in September 2010 and funds up to 50% of the USA’s promotion activities, allowing the United States to advertise itself as a tourist destination to travellers in foreign countries. Its funding is secured through private donations and matching public funds, collected through a $10 fee on select foreign travellers under the nation’s Visa Waiver Program. Brand USA creates promotional and marketing messages for overseas travellers.
“Losing Brand USA would be a blow to U.S. inbound marketing efforts that are important to creating jobs, boosting the national economy and helping all of our members who benefit from overseas visitors,” said NTA (formerly known as the National Tour Association) President Lisa Simon.
In the increasingly competitive role of destination promotion for tourism income, countries are spending large sums to promote themselves. In comparison, Mexico spends $173.8 million annually to promote tourism on a national basis. The United Kingdom spends $160 million, Australia $107.6 million and Turkey $98.6 million.
Canada, sees tourism promotion as a national priority and its efforts have seen Canada move on the New York-based FutureBrand’s Country Brand Index rankings, from 12th in 2006 to No. 1 in 2010 and 2011. There can be no doubt that an effective destination promotion can generate huge economic windfalls and sustain employment opportunities at a time when traditional industrial employments in developed countries are stagnating.