The Restoring Brand USA Act took another step toward passage, clearing the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The bill would renew the program aimed at promoting international travel to the U.S.
Brand USA has generated $56 billion to the U.S. economy since 2013 and supported more than 45,000 jobs each year, according to Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida, a sponsor of the bill. The program is funded by international visitors and private contributions, and the decline in international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a loss of that funding, Bilirakis said. The bill would direct the Treasury Department to allow this program to access critical resources, funded by foreign traveler visa fees, for the next few years.
“The travel and tourism industry was one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic. As we seek to restore our way of life and fully recover, we cannot overlook the work that must be done to renew this powerful engine of economic growth for communities across the nation,” Bilirakis said. “Brand USA has proven itself as a successful catalyst for spurring tourism to the U.S. We need that catalyst now more than ever to help rebuild the industry and spur job growth. Common sense solutions like this will help boost the economy and help get us moving in the right direction.”
Bilirakis mentioned also the recent reopening of the U.S. to vaccinated international travelers as underscoring the timeliness or renewing the Brand USA program.
The travel and hospitality industries need Brand USA to be renewed, said Tori Emerson Barnes, the U.S. Travel Association’s executive vice president of public affairs and policy, in a statement.
“Since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. has lost nearly $300 billion in export income due to declines in international travel. Now that U.S. borders have reopened to all vaccinated individuals, Brand USA’s important work of promoting America as a premier destination for global travelers is more important than ever as we recover from steep losses,” Barnes said. “The emergency relief provided by the bill—which utilizes existing funds at no cost to American taxpayers—will help the international travel segment rebound more quickly and restore U.S. jobs.”
USTA has been pressing for the passage of the Restoring Brand USA Act for some time.