US destination marketing body Brand USA is to receive $250 million in extraordinary funding from the US government to promote inbound travel in key markets including the UK and Ireland.
The funding, derived from ESTA fees from visa-waiver travellers, was confirmed after the Restoring Brand USA Act was included in a sweeping $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill approved by the US Senate on Thursday night.
The omnibus bill included funding for Ukraine and key federal agencies.
Chris Thompson, Brand USA chief executive, said: “The bipartisan support for Brand USA in the 2022 omnibus spending bill marks a milestone in the US travel and tourism industry’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The international travel economy is the most lucrative and has been the slowest to regain sustainable momentum.”
He added: “The new funding, which doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime, will allow Brand USA and our partners to move full steam ahead to rebuild traveler confidence, stimulate demand, and bring the world back together.
“This will translate directly into economic growth, quality jobs and tax revenues in communities throughout this country.
“We appreciate the many champions in Congress on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers who acknowledge the critical role of international travel to our nation’s economic vitality.”
US Travel chief executive Roger Dow said: “The inclusion of the Restoring Brand USA Act in the fiscal spending bill is a major win for the entire US travel industry, which has suffered more than any other industry throughout the pandemic.
“As international travel spending remains 78% below pre-pandemic levels, the relief provided by the bill will help the international travel segment rebound more quickly and restore US jobs.”
Dow added: “Brand USA has historically garnered strong bipartisan support due to its focus on promoting both urban and rural destinations, as well as its strong return on investment, which yields an average of $26 for each $1 spent on marketing activities.
“We are pleased that Congress has once again recognised the value this programme holds for travel businesses and local economies in every pocket of the country.”
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