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October 01, 2019

King Backs Bill to Boost “Vacationland” Efforts

Bipartisan Brand USA legislation would reauthorize international promotion campaigns to attract visitors

BRUNSWICK, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced his support of legislation to reauthorize Brand USA, a public-private partnership that enhances tourism across the country through marketing campaigns that promote international travel to the United States. Maine’s tourism industry supports nearly 110,000 jobs and generated approximately $6.2 billion dollars in 2018.

“Our state is nicknamed ‘Vacationland’ for a reason – no matter the season, there’s always a significant draw to the great state of Maine,” said Senator King. “From skiing in the winter to hiking in the spring, kayaking in summer, and leaf-peeping in the fall, it’s clear that Maine is simply a place that everyone wants to be. I’m glad to support this bill, which will help Maine’s tourism industry continue to thrive, enhance cultural diversity, and create jobs for Maine people.”

“We greatly appreciate Senator King’s longstanding support for tourism here in Maine,” said Greg Dugal, Director of Government Affairs, Maine Hospitality Association. “From creating dedicated funding for tourism marketing in Maine during his terms as Governor to supporting efforts at the federal level to reauthorize Brand USA to market the United States to the world, he has shown incredible support for one of the largest industries in our State, Country and in the world. We truly appreciate the efforts of the senator and his staff.”

Since 2013, Brand USA has brought 6.6 million more international visitors to the United States, generating a total economic impact of nearly $48 billion and supporting an average of around 52,000 jobs annually. In 2018, Brand USA generated $4.1 billion in visitor spending, resulting in a marketing return on investment of 32:1.

The program has been a proven success in boosting tourism to the United States and driving economic growth, but the 2018 congressional budget caps agreement diverted Brand USA’s user fees away from the program to general revenue.

Brand USA is funded by international visitors and private contributions – not U.S. taxpayers. Half of its budget comes from the private sector through cash and in-kind contributions. The rest of the budget – up to a maximum of $100 million – is funded by a nominal fee assessed on visa-free international visitors screened by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization. Amounts collected in excess of the cap are returned to the U.S. Treasury to help reduce the deficit.

In addition to Senator King, this bill is supported by U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.). 

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