Can we please all agree that tourism is non-partisan.
Considering that tourism is among the largest industries
in the world and that even in our sluggish economy, the travel and tourism
sector is outperforming nearly every other sector, you would think
there would be unanimous support for promoting international visitation to the United States.
Sadly, it looks like the modest funding for our national tourism promotion
entity is headed for a partisan battle. Establishing the public-private
partnership known as Brand USA is one of the best decisions Congress has
made since the repeal of prohibition. Now, they're having second thoughts.
Some background for you. Until 2009, the United States
had no national level tourism promotion organzation working to bring visitors and their
money here. Other nations had figured out the incredible economic power of
tourism and were working diligently and successfully to promote themselves.
India, Spain, Australia, Thailand, Norway and The Bahamas are just a few that
invested heavily in excellent campaigns to lure international travelers. After
a lot of hard work by American tourism leaders, the Travel Promotion Act, which
established Brand USA was passed in 2009. This legislation — unlike many others
in the news, which shall remain nameless — did not create a new federal
bureaucracy nor did it cost the American taxpayer a nickel. It established a
public-private partnership with an impressive board of tourism heavyweights. It authorized matching funds that would come from a fee paid by international
visitors. That means that not only is the federal government not funding Brand
USA with your money, they are insisting that the organization get financial
support from state, local and even private sources before they'll match it.
This all sounds way too smart to be coming from our government, but it's true.
We can't let this one program that can actually bring money from outside our
country into local communities be in jeopardy. Let your member of Congress know
that you support Brand USA.