Joined in Montpelier by ski area and tourism leaders, Rep. Peter Welch announced that President Obama has signed into law his bipartisan legislation to renew the successful Brand USA program which promotes Vermont and other areas as a destination for international visitors. Welch was joined by Ski Vermont President Parker Riehle, Deputy Commissioner of Vermont's Department of Tourism and Marketing Steven Cook, Win Smith of Sugarbush Resort and Bill Stritzler of Smugglers' Notch.
The legislation, co-authored with Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), is the Travel, Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4450). It reauthorizes the Brand USA program for five additional years. The bill passed the House last July on a bipartisan vote of 347-57. It was signed into law in December as part of broader legislation to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year.
Brand USA is a voluntary public-private partnership that attracts international visitors to the United States through targeted global marketing campaigns. The program is funded through private sector contributions matched by fees collected from international visitors through the Visa Waiver Program.
"At no cost to the taxpayer, Brand USA has boosted the tourism sector of the American economy, including in Vermont" said Welch. "When international tourists buy plane tickets to Vermont, all of Vermont benefits. This public-private partnership will continue to increase international visits to our state, especially to our ski areas, and support related travel and tourism jobs ."
As the largest ski and ride state on the East coast, and third in the nation, Vermont's ski industry supports over 30,000 jobs. The Department of Tourism and the Vermont Ski Area Association has worked with Brand USA to promote Vermont's ski industry to Canada and Europe. The program also included a cooperative agreement with Porter Airlines to promote winter flights from Toronto to Vermont for Canadian ski enthusiasts.
"Brand USA has been a crucial partner in our efforts to attract international visitors to Vermont's ski areas," said Ski Vermont President Parker Riehle. "The reauthorization of this program is a key ingredient to boosting Vermont's critically important tourism economy and we are extremely grateful to Congressman Welch for leading this bipartisan effort."
"With the support of Brand USA the Vermont Department of Tourism and Ski Vermont were able to have a heightened presence at this year's UK Ski Show which will highlight Vermont resorts," said Steven Cook, Vermont's Deputy Commissioner for Tourism and Marketing. "Vermont is also excited to participate with Brand USA and Discover New England in a sales mission to Australia in February to promote Vermont as a tourism destination. Without the support of Brand USA this additional exposure wouldn't happen."
According to the Vermont Department of Tourism, tourism contributed $1.7 billion of economic activity in Vermont in 2013, with almost 14 million visitors. In 2013, Brand USA generated an estimated $3.4 billion in visitor spending, supporting 53,000 new jobs in the United States.