U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today applauded the committee’s bipartisan approval of a bill to reauthorize Brand USA, a public-private partnership to increase the number of visitors to the United States. The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 (S. 2250) includes important improvements, secured by Thune, to ensure additional transparency and accountability concerning the operation of Brand USA, clearing a path for consideration of this job-creating legislation by the full Senate in the future. The House of Representatives passed the companion bill (H.R. 4450) yesterday by a 347-57 margin.
“South Dakota’s internationally-recognized sites, such as Mount Rushmore, draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to our state each year,” said Thune. “As our state’s second largest industry, tourism is an important sector of South Dakota’s economy, making this bill important to our state’s businesses and our state and local tax base. I worked with both the South Dakota Secretary of Tourism, Jim Hagen, and my colleagues in the Senate to secure important improvements to the bill, helping to ensure it has a clear path forward.”
"Without the marketing opportunities that Brand USA provides, South Dakota would not have the means to reach a large number of international visitors,” said Secretary Hagen. “I want to thank Senator Thune for his outstanding leadership to help reauthorize Brand USA. He is well respected by travel and tourism members around the country who look to him when we have critical issues impacting our industry. His unwavering support for tourism in South Dakota and across the country makes me proud to have him working for us in Washington."
The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014, introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), would reauthorize Brand USA through Fiscal Year 2020 while including three key improvements secured by Thune.
The first improvement ensures Brand USA follows the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations on performance metrics, including: laying out the specific timeframes, evaluation methodologies, and using data sources to monitor and evaluate Brand USA’s results and long-term effects on travel. The second change improves Brand USA’s in-kind contribution policy and procedure to provide greater predictability and credibility to the process. Finally, the bill would limit in-kind contributions from industry from 80 percent to 70 percent, thereby increasing the amount of cash that industry must contribute in order to receive government matching funds.The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates this legislation would reduce the national deficit by approximately $230 million over the next 10 years. Brand USA is funded by private contributions from the U.S. travel industry. These contributions are matched up to $100 million, using fees from international travelers, not U.S. taxpayer dollars.