Photo: U.S. Travel Association
|The U.S. Travel Association's Vote Travel Bus Tour made a stop Wednesday at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.
Brand USA: Promoting United States tourism in the global marketplace
© 2012 Group Tour Media Blog,
April 5, 2012
By Rick Martinez
The U.S. Travel Association’s Vote Travel Bus Tour is making its way across the United States.
The tour’s goal has been to raise awareness in the U.S. about the national impact of travel, making 37 stops from its March 21 launch in Washington, D.C., to its May 21 wrap-up in Tampa.
The Vote Travel motorcoach stops Friday in Cheyenne, Wyo., at Cheyenne Depot Plaza and Saturday in Denver.
It made a stop Wednesday in Bloomington, Minn., outside the Mall of America, where it found plenty of supporters.
“Tourism is vital to Minnesota’s economy,” John Edman, Explore Minnesota Tourism director, said in a statement. “The tourism industry generates more than $31 million every day in sales and it employs more than 235,000.
“It is fitting the bus stop was at Mall of America since it is the number one tourist destination in the state.”
The reality is tourism is a big deal to every state in the U.S.
In 2010, direct spending by domestic and international travelers in the U.S. was $759 billion and generated an economic impact of $1.8 trillion, according to the U.S. Travel Association (USTA). One out of nine jobs in the U.S. depend on travel and tourism, and travel ranks No. 1 among U.S. industry exports.
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced last month that travel exports in January were $12.9 billion – more than the exports of petroleum or agriculture products.
“Last year, the 2.6 million arrivals from China and Brazil spent $13 billion in the United States and supported more than 94,000 U.S. jobs; spending, on average, more than $5,000 per visitor,” said David Huether, USTA senior vice president for economics and research. “If the number of visas issued this year in just these two countries were to increase by 40 percent, the resulting increase in visitation to the U.S. would create more than 12,000 American jobs this year
“This is more than three times the number of workers employed at the largest auto assembly plant in the state of Michigan.”
That is why the Brand USA, a national tourism marketing campaign by the United States, was unveiled in 2010 and got launched internationally last fall at the World Travel Market in London. The effort gained President Barack Obama’s boost when he announced a national tourism and travel initiative in February, using Orlando, Fla., as his backdrop.
An effort like Brand USA is an increasing necessity for the U.S. in the international marketplace, especially when considering the United States’ share of global travel plummeted from 17.3 percent in 2000 to 11.2 percent in 2010.
Many might not realize the U.S. has no coordinated national marketing and advertising campaign to promote tourism and bring visitors to the United States.
Logo courtesy Brand USA
|Brand USA is a new national marketing campaign promoting the United States to international audiences.
That is bad news in the competitive global marketplace. For instance, Mexico spends $173.8 million annually to promote tourism on a national basis. The United Kingdom spends $160 million, Australia $107.6 million and Turkey $98.6 million.
The U.S.' good neighbor to the north, Canada, sees tourism promotion as a national priority.
The Vancouver-based Canadian Tourism Commission operates in 11 countries around the world: the U.S., Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan, Mexico and South Korea. Last year, the Canadian Tourism Commission launched its Signature Experiences Collection touting unique Canadian travel experiences and destinations. Six years ago, the commission launched Canada’s branding “Canada. Keep Exploring.”
Such efforts have helped move Canada on New York-based FutureBrand's Country Brand Index rankings from 12th in 2006 to No. 1 in 2010 and 2011, boosted by the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. In the same index, the United States was sixth, with Switzerland runner-up, New Zealand third, Japan fourth and Australia fifth. The United Kingdom was 13th, Mexico 47th and Turkey 48th.
The momentum with Brand USA, at least to date, is helping bring about a buzz for the U.S. with potential international visitors.
That was very evident last month when I took part in the Travel South Showcase in Louisville, Ky., and the Discover New England Tourism Summit & International Marketplace in Boston. Brand USA was brought up often in general conversations, with tour operators focused on bringing international visitors to the U.S. saying they see a potential boost in business with the campaign.
However, there are folks in Washington, D.C., that don’t see the need to promote travel to the U.S. abroad.
Last week along partisan lines, the House of Representatives adopted a federal budget for 2013 that would eliminate Brand USA’s campaign and funding. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the budget would eliminate $100 million in matching funds to be used by Brand USA to market U.S. destinations in international markets. Funding for the program comes from fees paid by international visitors from visa-waiver countries when entering the U.S.
“Losing Brand USA would be a blow to U.S. inbound marketing efforts that are important to creating jobs, boosting the national economy and helping all of our members who benefit from overseas visitors,” NTA President Lisa Simon said in a statement.
I see that as an understatement. In an increasingly competitive world, Brand USA is needed to boost U.S. efforts internationally when it comes to tourism.
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