Fred in the News

THE HERALD-PALLADIUM: Destination USA

Upton's pitch for pitching America

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ST. JOSEPH, Mich., Jul 27 | Lynn Turner / Nick Culp (269-385-0039 / 202-225-3761) | comments
"The Travel Promotion, Enhancement and Modernization Act of 2014 is a important bill that will boost jobs and the economy by promoting the U.S. as a world-class travel destination," Upton said in remarks on the House floor last week.
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By Jim Dalgleish

The United States of America is a large, powerful, affluent nation of 300 million people and high ideals.

And it's a brand.

In 2010, Congress created Brand USA, a private-public partnership to market the nation as an international tourist destination.

But the effort is set to expire at the end of September 2015, which would be bad news for tourist-haven Southwest Michigan, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton said. The St. Joseph Republican has joined the effort to extend legislation supporting the brand.

"The Travel Promotion, Enhancement and Modernization Act of 2014 is a important bill that will boost jobs and the economy by promoting the U.S. as a world-class travel destination," Upton said in remarks on the House floor last week. The extension would expire Sept. 30, 2020.

Upton in his remarks noted he hosted a tourism roundtable meeting this month in South Haven. Citing the U.S. Travel Association, Upton said 2013 tourism in his district generated nearly $1 billion in revenue and $200 million in payroll and supported 9,300 jobs.

The House voted 347-57 to pass the bill. The Senate version has been passed by that body's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Upton spokesman Nick Culp said.

Upton's office reports that Brand USA is supported by donations and a $10 fee assessed once every two years on visa-free international travelers who enter the U.S. under the Department of Homeland Securities Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

The federal contribution is capped at $100 million, which requires a match from the U.S. tourist industry.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the law, if extended to 2024, will add $500 million in federal expenditures. However, it will generate $731 million in revenue - thus reducing the federal deficit by $231 million.

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