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USA tourism chief hits out at Trump’s plans to axe budget

The head of the US Travel Association has hit out at president Donald Trump’s budget proposal to axe the Brand USA tourism marketing agency.

President and CEO Roger Dow hit out at the suggestion which came as part of budget proposals to slash $3.6 trillion from government spending in the next decade.

Trump’s plans would eliminate Brand USA and shift the revenue to Customs and Border Protection – but the measure would raise the country’s deficit by $510 million over the next three years.

The US Congress will spend months debating the budget proposals and may decide to change or ignore them.

Brand USA is funded through fees that in-bound travellers pay under the visa-waiver scheme.

Dow said: “With all that’s going on in the world, unilaterally disarming the marketing of the US as a travel destination would be to surrender market share at the worst possible time.

“It’s especially perplexing that the elimination of Brand USA is on the table when both commerce secretary [Wilbur] Ross and Office of Management and Budget director [Mick] Mulvaney each have supported it previously.

“The creation of Brand USA was a bipartisan effort led by Republicans that passed both chambers by overwhelming majorities.

“The agency was responsible for adding $8.9 billion to the US economy last year, according to the firm Oxford Economics – a 28-to-1 return on investment. “

Dow added: “Brand USA isn’t funded with a dime of taxpayer money, reduced the deficit by $50 million, and by the OMB’s own accounting eliminating it would put the federal budget further in the red.

“With international visitation being the country’s number two export supporting 15 million American jobs, we’re struggling to understand how cutting Brand USA squares with this administration’s stated priorities.”

Brand USA chief strategy officer Anne Madison said: “Brand USA’s story is a compelling one that clearly demonstrates the significant impact the organisation has had on fuelling the nation’s economy by bringing millions of incremental visitors and billions of incremental dollars in spending to the USA.”

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