Brand USA – the nation’s destination-marketing organization – generated more than 2 million incremental visitors to the U.S. from around the globe over the past two years, according to a new study by Oxford Economics. Those visitors accounted for $6.5 billion in incremental spending, which injected nearly $15 billion into the American economy. The influx of incremental visitors also supported an average of 50,000 incremental jobs each of the two years.
Brand USA was created through the 2010 Tourism Promotion Act as a public-private enterprise to coordinate international marketing efforts in order to increase tourism to the U.S. and enhance America’s image as a premier travel destination. It began operations inMay 2011. Today, Brand USA is working with a network of nearly 500 private-sector partners.
“As a result of welcoming more international visitors to the United States, the U.S. economy grows, jobs are created and more importantly, there is a more favorable image of the United States around the world,” said Christopher L. Thompson, President and CEO of Brand USA.
Oxford Economics, an international economic forecaster based in Oxford, England, looked at nine global markets for the ROI study:Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Brand USA is fully deployed in each of those markets – implementing campaigns for consumer, travel-trade and cooperative marketing.
“Brand USA marketing initiatives had the strongest results, according to the study, in Asian-Pacific and South American markets, where the ROI was 48:1. Travelers from those markets account for “a considerable number of international visitors to places beyond the major gateway destinations in the United States,” Thompson said.
Oxford further documented that Brand USA marketing brought 903,400 incremental visitors to the United States during fiscal 2014. Those travelers spent $3.1 billion on travel with U.S. carriers, producing $7.1 billion total sales. Overall, during fiscal 2014, the United States welcomed 75 million international visitors. This translated into a $222-billion boost for the U.S. economy.
Half of Brand USA funding comes from the private sector. The other, matching half comes from the $10 fee charged to visitors who are from countries that do not require visas for travel to the U.S.
Highlights of Brand USA activities and programs during fiscal 2014, as discussed in the annual report, include:
- Brand USA began production of a giant-screen film that pays tribute to America’s national parks. It is being produced with independent filmmaker MacGillivray Freeman Films and will be released early in 2016 at more than 800 IMAX theaters and other giant-screen theaters in nearly 40 countries. The film is a major element in Brand USA’s campaign to promote America’s Great Outdoors.
- Brand USA launched a new culinary-tourism initiative in July 2014 in partnership with the James Beard Foundation. The program recently expanded to include a new consumer website, “Flavors of the USA,” and a new guidebook in six languages by the same name.
- Brand USA’s partnership network jumped from 339 partners in fiscal 2013 to 475 in the following year. The number of programs for partners surged from 30 to more than 100. This helped to sustain a 94-percent retention rate among partners.
- Brand USA’s international representation now covers 20 markets with new offices in Canada and India.
- Brand USA hosted U.S. pavilions at regional tourism expositions in Brazil, Mexico, China, Italy, Germany, Singapore, Russia, andSweden.
- Brand USA created its first MegaFam for Australian travel agents with the support of Qantas Airlines. MegaFams are large-scale, multi-destination U.S. itineraries for international travel agents. The program started in 2013 with one MegaFam. In 2014, BrandUSA hosted four MegaFams.
- Brand USA introduced a sixth module for its USA Discovery online-training platform for international travel agents, which allows the agents to become familiar with various aspects of U.S. travel. The USA Fly-Drive module features classic American road trips and “roads less traveled.”
- Thomas Cook and Brand USA launched a pan-European social-media competition, “Discover America: United Stories of America.” Participants win monthly trips to the U.S.
In December 2014, President Obama signed the omnibus-spending bill into law that included provisions for reauthorizing federal funding for Brand USA through fiscal 2020. The measure had received bi-partisan support in both houses of Congress.