Now at the start of its seventh year of operation and a new fiscal year, Brand USA hosted a breakfast roundtable discussion for six invited journalists on October 4, 2017 in New York City, New York. Chris Thompson, Brand USA’s president and chief executive officer, spoke about trends for international tourism and travel to the United States and how those trends impact the national economy.
He also discussed specific Brand USA marketing efforts, including the upcoming release of a new giant-screen documentary, America’s Musical Journey, set for early 2018. The film, which traces an overview of the nation’s vast musical heritage, follows up the 2016 worldwide release of Brand USA’s first cinematic project, National Parks Adventure.
That production – seen by more seven million international viewers to date is a tribute to the National Park Service’s centennial and a celebration of “Great Outdoors” attractions and destinations across the United States. It has garnered 33 awards, including one as the Giant Screen Cinema Association’s best short-subject film for 2016. Brand USA partnered with independent, IMAX® filmmaker MacGillivray Freeman to make both documentaries.
Another ongoing Brand USA campaign is the “One Big Welcome” initiative, Thompson said. Brand USA has been collecting video, personalized welcome messages from U.S. residents across the country directed to international travelers who are considering trips to the United States. “We want real people to talk briefly about their favorite U.S. places as they invite prospective USA visitors to come to those places,” he said.
The videos will be available on Brand USA’s online platforms: TheBrandUSA.com and VisitTheUSA.com, along with its social-media outlets.
The journalists who participated in the roundtable cover the travel industry, or aspects of it, for top-tier media outlets, including the Associated Press and MarketWatch, as well as the travel trade outlets Travel Weekly, Meetings and Conventions, TravAlliance, Travel Agent Central, and International Meetings Review.
Thompson told the journalists that Brand USA continues to develop and coordinate marketing campaigns in collaboration with its network of mre than 700 global public and private-sector partners aligned with U.S. tourism.
The United States, he said, is among the most visited destinations for international travelers, according to data collected by the Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO).
Additionally, NTTO recently reported that spending by international travelers in the United States is up .7 percent, or nearly $78 billion for the first half of 2017 – more than the previous six months.
The general trend of international visitation in the United States is strong, Thompson said. Substantial increases in international arrivals in recent years included a 7-percent jump from 2013 to 2014, and a 3-percent increase from 2014 to 2015.
“We believe in our core strategies for promoting the value, diversity, and authentic appeal of travel experiences in the USA,” Thompson said. “It’s our privilege to tell people around the world about the wonderful opportunities that await them in all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia – whether they go to, through, or beyond our gateways.”
Though NTTO data shows some softness in levels of inbound tourism to the United States, starting in 2016, varied indicators have reflected U.S. resiliency as an international destination. For instance, the number of visitors to the United States during 2016 (75.6 million) was the second-highest on record.
The influence of Brand USA marketing is evident, Thompson said. Oxford Economics, an independent global research firm, reported that Brand USA marketing produced 1.2 million incremental visitors during 2016. Those visitors spent $4.1 billion which generated a total economic impact of $8.9 billion and supported nearly 60,000 jobs.
The Oxford Economics study also found that each dollar of Brand USA marketing yielded $30.70 in visitor spending. With all overhead expenses, Brand USA showed a return of $27.70 for each dollar spent.
Following the roundtable session, Thompson met with an editor from The Economist magazine. They spoke about Brand USA’s role in creating value for the national economy through the advancement of international tourism to the United States. A resulting story is expected in the magazine this month.
Thompson then met with Xinhua, the syndicated news agency that serves as the official press agency of China. Thompson participated in a 20-minute, on-camera conversation and discussed U.S. - China tourism, which resulted in a print and online Xinhua story. He spoke about the significance of tourism between the two countries and the enhanced cooperation that has emerged from the annual U.S. - China Leadership Summit, which recently was held in Atlanta, Georgia in September. The summit brings about 200 tourism leaders from China and the United States together for several days of panel discussions and one-on-one conversations. Summit locations alternate yearly between the two countries.
China is the fifth-largest source market for inbound tourism to the United States. It is on track to become the number-one overseas market by the end of 2021, and the third overall, trailing only Canada and Mexico.
In 2016, according to the NTTO, nearly three million Chinese travelers came to the United States, a 15-percent rise over the previous year. Visitors from China spend more than any other group during their trips here. They collectively spent $33 billion in 2016, infusing the U.S. economy with more than $90 million a day. By comparison, visitors from Canada and Mexico, the second- and third-ranked groups, spent about $21 billion and $20 billion, respectively.