When bipartisanship in Washington prevails, we see results. That is why today, I would like to demonstrate how one bipartisan policy for Brand USA has dramatically helped our region, and the country, in driving economic growth for local communities.
After the 9/11 attacks, our U.S. travel industry experienced what is referred to as the lost decade. Given those traumatic events and the necessary, critical response to secure our transportation ports of entry, our nation lost a considerable share of the international traveler market. From families seeking to head to Colorado’s Rockies to large international trade shows being canceled and planned elsewhere, those events cost our communities direct investment because of an enormous amount of forfeited foreign travelers.
International inbound travel happens to be the second largest export in the U.S. International travelers arriving to the U.S. to attend business meetings and conferences, as well as tour our national parks or visit the Pikes Peak region’s attractions, is an export. Today, this export market is so strong that it contributes $84 billion to our trade balance with international countries globally.
That is why Brand USA is such a critical partner in this effort to reclaim our share of international travel. Crafted by bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate in 2009, the organization extends the reach of advertising and promotion budgets for partners and destinations across the U.S. At no cost to the taxpayer, this public-private partnership is funded through a contribution-matching program that develops innovative and scaled marketing campaigns for destinations of all sizes.
In the last four years, Brand USA has directly led to an additional 4.3 million international visitors that would not have otherwise planned a trip. This increased annual visitation supports 51,000 travel jobs in communities throughout the U.S., leading to an additional $4 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue that supports critical local services like first responders during our wildfires and floods.
At the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, we proudly partner and leverage our opportunities with Brand USA on campaigns to attract international visitors.
In 2014, our budget allowed for a targeted destination video and web page to the Japanese traveler.
In 2016, we enhanced Colorado Springs’ presence with content that translated to several languages and an inspirational video campaign that was pushed to all English-speaking foreign destinations such as Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and Australia.
A significant outcome of the recent Destination Master Plan for the Pikes Peak Region is to increase visitor spending by attracting more visitors to stay overnight in our lodging properties. Partnering with Brand USA will be an integral part of the CVB’s goal to increase length of stay as international travelers spend more and have a longer length of stay.
On behalf of the travel industry, we thank Congress for its leadership in creation of Brand USA, and we hope we can count on our area lawmakers to support its reauthorization so that we can continue to position Colorado Springs, and our entire state, as the top destination for international travel.
Doug Price is president & CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.