The U.S. casino gaming industry has joined the broader U.S. travel industry to oppose a provision in President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal that would eliminate funding for Brand USA, 300-plus organizations announced through a letter to key Senate and House committees.
Brand USA was created in 2010 to help address the post-9/11 decade of declining U.S. share in the global travel market. The United States was one of the few developed countries in the world without a national destination marketing organization.
“We need to have a system that is both inviting and welcoming for bringing travelers,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association in a recent interview. “If we’re not going to ask them for their business, they’re not going to come. That’s where Brand USA comes in.”
The letter was signed by more than 300 travel businesses, associations and destination marketing organizations, and sent to key Senate and House committees including the Senate Budget Committee; Senate Appropriations Committee; Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; House Budget Committee; House Appropriations Committee; and House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“According to Oxford Economics, over the last four years Brand USA has attracted 4.3 million incremental visitors; $13.6 billion in related spending; and $29.5 billion in total economic impact, including nearly $3.9 billion in federal, state and local taxes,” they wrote. “This has supported 50,900 incremental jobs annually and overall yielded an astonishing 27-to-1 return on investment.”
The broader U.S. travel industry supports 15 million Americans whose jobs depend on a vibrant travel sector – including 1.7 million jobs supported by the casino gaming industry.
“By attracting international visitors, Brand USA enhances economic growth in all 50 states and territories, spurs job creation and advances public diplomacy – all at no expense to American taxpayers,” they wrote. Its activities are supported by private sector contributions and matched by a $10 fee paid by international visitors from Visa Waiver Program nations.”
“In short, Brand USA is an extraordinarily successful public-private partnership – the type of joint initiative advocated by the Trump administration. Its work has been particularly beneficial for small destinations with limited marketing resources that can leverage brand USA’s coordinated outreach to market their brands in the global marketplace.”
International travelers stayed an average of 18 nights and spent an average of $4,360 per capita, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Overall, U.S. travel exports totaled $246 billion in 2016.
“As Congress deliberates on next year’s federal budget, we urge you to examine closely the uniformly positive impact of Brand USA’s work that adds so much value to America’s economy without cost to America’s taxpayers,” they wrote in the letter. “With so much at stake, never has the crucial work of Brand USA been more important in our communities.”
Read the House and Senate letters.