NEW YORK: The national executive committee of Skål International-USA, one of the oldest global organizations of tourism leaders from all Industry segments, has taken a strong stand to combat the proposed zero budgeting for Brand USA, the marketing arm for the United States.
“Brand USA has done an effective job growing the inbound travel market to America,” said Holly Powers, President of Skål International–USA. “In the last year alone, we have seen an additional economic impact of $8.2 billion from the travel industry, allowing it to continue as America’s leading export.”
Brand USA is funded from private contributions and a federal match of up to $100 million a year which comes from ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) fees paid by inbound visitors from visa waiver countries who pay $14 every two years to visit the United States.
“This is an excellent way to market the United States and explain our entry policies and procedures,” remarked Powers. “The beauty of the original legislation is that not a dime of tax revenue is used to fund this effort. The visitors themselves are funding it.”
The Administration has proposed transferring the ESTA fees to Customs and Border Patrol. Visitation to the United States is down more than 10% in 2017 year to date against last year’s international visitation numbers.
A broad coalition of organizations, now including Skål International–USA, is urging Congress to continue the authorization of marketing by Brand USA and not approve transferring this source of funding to the CBP.
SKAL International USA is currently the largest National Committee in Skal International with over 2,100 members and 48 clubs nationwide.