WASHINGTON, DC—The House of Representatives late yesterday passed the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4450) on a vote of 347-57.
The legislation reauthorizes Brand USA, a public-private partnership designed to market U.S. destinations to international travelers without cost to taxpayers. The bill also includes reforms to increase accountability in the program.
In a statement issued by Katherine Lugar, president/CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), she praised Congressmen Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Peter Welch (D-VT) for “championing Brand USA and being vocal in touting its track record and the competitive edge” it has given to the United States.
“Brand USA has yielded tremendous dividends for our nation and economy: millions of new visitors coming to our hotels, restaurants and shops, billions of dollars in added sales and revenue, and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs across the U.S. Today’s vote clearly shows Congress sees the benefits of this program and the necessity for ensuring its continuation. Our industry and the nation’s economy will be stronger because of their efforts and those of thousands of small businessmen and women across the country,” said Luger.
U.S. Travel President/CEO Roger Dow commented, “The travel community heartily congratulates House leaders of both parties for embracing a policy that pays clear dividends for the U.S. economy: extending Brand USA and the outstanding work it does to attract international travelers and their dollars to American shores.
“The job-creating effects of travel activity and the back-end return on travel promotion efforts are both absolutely beyond questioning. It’s hard to believe that in the hyper-competitive global travel market, the U.S. was without any agency performing these functions at a national level before Brand USA came into being three years ago. It’s why we were losing market share to destinations in Asia and Europe, where tourism promotion is usually a cabinet-level public ministry. By moving to keep Brand USA in business, the House has paved the way for us to build on our record 70 million inbound international visitors last year. Overseas visitors to the U.S. spend nearly $4,500 on average per trip—dollars that support jobs that cannot be exported,” he said.
The Senate must now pass its Brand USA bill, and Luger urged AH&LA members to “take a few minutes to contact your senators to express your support for this legislation.”