12.20.19

Gardner, Blunt, Klobuchar, Cortez Masto Measure to Boost Jobs, Support Travel & Tourism Passes Senate, Heads to President’s Desk

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) applauded the inclusion of their legislation to reauthorize Brand USA in the year-end funding vehicle, which passed the Senate on Thursday. Brand USA is a public-private partnership that enhances tourism across the country by promoting international travel to the United States. The legislation now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“Reauthorization of Brand USA is exciting news for Colorado’s tourism industry, which 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 Senator Gardner. “Colorado shines as one of the nation’s top-ten most visited states, with direct flights to Denver International Airport from countries like Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany. 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 seeing this legislation signed into law and helping grow the U.S. tourism industry, which generates more than $20 billion in annual spending in Colorado.” 

“Missouri’s tourism industry supports more than 300,000 jobs and contributes billions of dollars to our economy,” said Senator Blunt. “Reauthorizing Brand USA will help ensure we remain competitive in the international tourism industry, and will bring even more visitors to attractions, restaurants, and hotels in Missouri and across the nation.”

“Tourism is an important aspect of Minnesota’s economy and the beauty and wilderness of our state has attracted visitors from around the world for decades,” said Senator Klobuchar. “The spending agreement will help ensure that Brand USA can fulfill its mission of encouraging travelers from around the world to visit Minnesota.” 

“Brand USA has a proven track record of boosting international tourism and creating good-paying jobs in Nevada,” said Cortez Masto. “Restoring long-term funding to this program, at no cost to the taxpayer, ensures we’re doing everything possible to support the hundreds of thousands of Nevadans who work in the tourism and hospitality industries. I’m pleased by the passage of the Brand USA reauthorization, and I’ll continue fighting to grow the Silver State’s tourism industry and support the families and communities who rely on it.”

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 – putting the program at risk for cancelation. 

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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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.