NEW YORK: Roger Dow, the President and CEO of the US Travel Association, has issued a statement questioning proposals to scrap funding for Brand USA.
The statement was issued after it emerged that plans to eliminate the tourism marketing agency were included in President Donald Trump’s federal budget document.
“With all that’s going on in the world, unilaterally disarming the marketing of the US as a travel destination would be to surrender market share at the worst possible time,” said Dow.
“It’s especially perplexing that the elimination of Brand USA is on the table when both commerce secretary Ross and OMB director Mulvaney each have supported it previously.”
Dow argued that the creation of Brand USA was a bipartisan effort led by Republicans that passed both chambers by overwhelming majorities.
He said the agency was responsible for adding $8.9 billion to the US economy last year, according to the firm Oxford Economics, a 28-to-1 return on investment.
“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 continued.
“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.”
Dave Lorenz, vice president travel for the state of Michigan, added his support.
“Brand USA is an important partner with the State of Michigan in our efforts to encourage international leisure travel to Michigan and to the entire Great Lakes area.
“Michigan has benefitted from the highest rate of growth of international travel to any state in the country and much of this success is due to our collaboration with Brand USA.
“We strongly support funding US Customs and Border Patrol operations at appropriate levels while also funding our marketing efforts through the ESTA program.
“All legitimate travellers are welcome to visit the USA and it’s important that we continue to ‘market the welcome’ in an efficient and effective way.”