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WASHINGTON — Brand USA, the federally funded organization that promotes the U.S. as a tourist destination, is on the chopping block, following details of President Trump’s controversial budget proposal that’s being delivered to Congress today.
According to USA Today, the budget would eliminate Brand USA and shift revenue over to Customs and Border Protection. Summary budget documents reveal how the proposal would raise the deficit US$510 million over the next three years.
In an official statement, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow said: “With all that’s going on in the world, unilaterally disarming the marketing of the U.S. as a travel destination would be to surrender market share at the worst possible time. It’s especially perplexing that the elimination of Brand USA is on the table when both Commerce Secretary Ross and OMB (office of Management and Budget) Director Mulvaney each have supported it previously.”
Dow also noted that Brand USA was a “bipartisan effort” and that the organization has contributed nearly $9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016.
“Brand USA isn’t funded with a dime of taxpayer money, reduced the deficit by $50 million, and by the OMB’s own accounting eliminating it would put the federal budget further in the red,” he added.
“With international visitation being the country’s number two export supporting 15 million American jobs, we’re struggling to understand how cutting Brand USA squares with this administration’s stated priorities.”
Just last month, Brand USA launched its ‘See How Far You Can Go’ campaign in major markets around the world.
Anne Madison, chief strategy and communications officer at Brand USA, told Travelweek in February that the organization believes “there is more recognition today than ever before of travel and tourism as a significant source of fuelling the nation’s economy and creating jobs – and this extends well beyond just the travel industry. We were created to increase international visitation to the United States in order to fuel the nation’s economy, and that’s exactly what we are doing and will continue to focus on.”
Madison also went on to say that Brand USA’s campaigns and marketing initiatives have helped welcome more than 3 million incremental visitors to the country, and infused the nation’s economy with more than $21 billion in total economic impact.
Over the next few months, Congress will debate whether to change or ignore the Trump administration’s proposals to the budget.