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Blunt, Klobuchar, Gardner, Cortez Masto Introduce Bill to Support Travel & Tourism, Boost Jobs

July 16, 2019

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.) introduced legislation to reauthorize Brand USA, a public-private partnership that enhances tourism across the country by promoting international travel to the United States.

“America’s tourism industry supports thousands of jobs and contributes billions to our economy,” said Blunt. “Brand USA has a proven track record of bringing travelers to attractions, restaurants, and hotels in communities across our nation. From our national parks to our historic sites to our bustling cities, America should be the top travel destination in the world. This bipartisan bill will ensure we remain competitive in the international tourism industry and bring even more visitors to our shores.”

"Brand USA is a proven partnership that helps the U.S. compete globally by boosting tourism here at home,” said Klobuchar. “Whether it’s tourists coming to visit the northern lakes of Minnesota or the Gateway Arch in Missouri, international tourism helps drive billions in sales every year and spurs economic growth in local communities across the country. This bipartisan legislation will ensure that Brand USA has the funding to fulfill its mission of encouraging travelers from around the world to visit the United States and enhancing the nation’s economy."

“Colorado’s tourism industry has exploded in growth as more than 80 million visitors each year travel to ski our world-class resorts, enjoy the great outdoors, and experience the real American West,” said Gardner. “With direct flights to Denver International Airport from countries as varied as Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany, our state shines as one of the nation’s top ten most visited states. This bill will boost further tourism by strengthening the Brand USA program, which is the promotion agency for U.S. tourism and operates at no cost to the U.S. taxpayer. I look forward to working to get this legislation signed into law and helping grow the U.S. tourism industry, which generates more than $20 billion in annual spending in Colorado.”

“Restoring funding to Brand USA is a critical investment in Nevada and the hundreds of thousands of jobs in our tourism and hospitality industries,” said Cortez Masto. “Brand USA has a proven record of boosting tourism to the United States, creating good-paying jobs and driving economic growth, and it doesn’t cost U.S. taxpayers a dime. I’m proud to join Senators Blunt, Klobuchar, and Gardner in this bipartisan effort to make crucial investment in jobs in Nevada and throughout the country.”

“The renewal of Brand USA is critical to driving American jobs and exports, as well as travelers throughout the country,” said Roger Dow, President and CEO, U.S. Travel Association. “This is smart policymaking in support of a proven program that will help sustain our economic expansion for years to come without cost to taxpayers. We thank and congratulate Senators Blunt, Klobuchar, Gardner and Cortez Masto for this legislation that does a tremendous service to their states and the entire country.”

Since 2013, Brand USA has brought 6.6 million incremental international visitors to the United States, generating a total economic impact of nearly $48 billion and supporting an average of around 52,000 jobs annually. In 2018, Brand USA generated $4.1 billion in incremental visitor spending, resulting in a marketing return on investment of 32:1.

The program has been a proven success in boosting tourism to the United States and driving economic growth, but the 2018 congressional budget caps agreement diverted Brand USA’s user fees away from the program to general revenue.

Brand USA is funded by international visitors and private contributions – not U.S. taxpayers. Half of its budget comes from the private sector through cash and in-kind contributions. The rest of the budget – up to a maximum of $100 million – is funded by a nominal fee assessed on visa-free international visitors screened by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization. Amounts collected in excess of the cap are returned to the U.S. Treasury to help reduce the deficit.

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