WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) joined his colleagues in urging the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Commerce and Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committees to protect and renew funding for Brand USA.
“Brand USA is a public-private partnership that serves as the destination marketing organization for the United States. Though the program has been a proven success in boosting tourism to the United States and driving economic growth, the 2018 congressional budget caps agreement diverted Brand USA’s user fees away from the program to general revenue. We strongly support protecting and renewing Brand USA’s funding, while upholding the original structure that no taxpayer dollars should be used to fund the program,” the senators wrote in a bipartisan letter led by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and cosigned by 43 of their colleagues.
“The Utah Office of Tourism appreciates Sen. Romney’s leadership on Brand USA,” said Vicki Varela, Managing Director of the Utah Office of Tourism. “This critical public/private partnership promotes Utah to key international travel markets. Every Utah household saves $1,375 in tax dollars because of tourism spending. International visitors are a major part of that equation because they stay longer and spend more money.”
Since 2013, Brand USA has brought 5.4 million incremental international visitors to the United States, generating a total economic impact of $38.4 billion and supporting an average of 51,580 jobs annually. In 2017, Brand USA spent $140 million on its marketing expenses while generating $4.1 billion in incremental visitor spending, resulting in a marketing return on investment of 29:1.
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.
Read the full letter here.