(Reuters) - Some 15 executives from companies associated with the tourism industry, such as American Express (AXP.N) and Marriott (MAR.O), have urged the U.S. government to renew federal funding of Brand USA, which promotes the United States as a travel destination.
The country has seen slower growth in tourism in recent years, versus global growth, and the part-public body Brand USA is “critical to the U.S. effectively competing for lucrative international tourism dollars”, industry group U.S. Travel Association said in a statement on Wednesday.
Executives from companies such as Seaworld Parks & Entertainment and Carnival Cruise Line were also among those calling for federal funding of Brand USA, the statement shows.
The U.S. Department of Commerce was not immediately available for comment after midnight on Wednesday.
Brand USA was established by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 and began operations in 2011 to promote the country as a travel destination and to communicate visa and entry policies.
The organization receives a part of the fees collected from foreign visitors, but the U.S. Congress approved a budget agreement in 2018 to divert this away from the program, in a move the Travel Association describes as a strong signal that the future of Brand USA may be in jeopardy.
Brand USA’s funding from fees would be cut after its current authorization expires in 2020.
After a year marked by falling Chinese tourist numbers that alarmed hoteliers and retailers, Brand USA recruited Chinese pop star Jane Zhang in August to front a campaign on the Weibo social network to turn around the drop in tourists from the Asian nation amid an acrimonious trade war.
Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar