Internet Travel Monitor - Marketing, Research & Tech

June 7, 2017

Brand USA Seeing Results as It Markets United States to International Travelers

Study shows efforts have infused U.S. economy with $29.5 billion over past four years

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Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States—with a mission to increase international visitation, spend, and market share has announced its positive impact on U.S. international arrivals and the U.S. economy. Brand USA launched operations in 2011 with the support of 89 partners representing various segments of the U.S. travel and tourism industry. To date, it had has worked in partnership with more than 700 organizations worldwide.

Now, with the investments of its ever-expanding partner network, Brand USA has used a variety of marketing programs – over the past four years – to generate 4.3 million incremental international visitors to the United States, which, in turn, injected $29.5 billion into the U.S. economy during that span of time, according to a recent study by Oxford Economics, an independent research firm based in Oxford, England.

The Oxford study also showed that this enhanced flow of international visitors accounted for $13.6 billion in incremental spending, while producing nearly $3.9 billion in federal, state, and local taxes, and supporting an average of 51,000 incremental jobs each of those four years.

“Raising the level of inbound tourism to the United States is one of the best ways to propel economic growth and create jobs,” said Christopher L. Thompson, Brand USA president and CEO. “Travel is the number-one service export for our country. It represents 33 percent of all U.S. service exports, and 11 percent of our total exports.”

Brand USA's origin as a public-private partnership with a mission to lead the national effort to market the United States as a premier global travel destination coincides with the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, established in 2012 by then-President Obama. The goal of this initiative is to welcome at least 100 million international visitors to the United States every year, starting in 2021. By attaining this level of inbound visitation, more U.S. jobs would be created as the tourism sector expands and fuels the national economy.

Thompson said the number of international travelers – who come from countries where Brand USA actively markets U.S. travel – is growing at a swifter pace than overall international visitation. “We are seeing tangible results from our multi-dimensional approach to marketing the United States.

Brand USA uses an array of brand marketing, public relations, travel-trade outreach and cooperative-marketing programs, he said. “And, our line-up of programs and opportunities make it possible for all of our partners – large and small – to leverage Brand USA marketing well beyond what they could do on their own.”

These varied marketing campaigns are designed to promote all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories as destinations for international travelers, Thompson said. The campaigns spotlight both urban and rural areas, including places that are beyond traditional gateway destinations.

Brand USA funds its operations through a combination of non-federal contributions by its partners – a network that includes destination-marketing organizations, travel brands and private-sector companies – and matching funds that the U.S. government collects from international visitors who come to the United States through the Visa Waiver Program.

Benchmarks for effective marketing

Brand USA has attained numerous benchmarks that align with its success in marketing the United States to travelers around the world. It uses three primary types of marketing: direct to consumer (USA Campaign); cooperative marketing (for partners); and travel-trade outreach (promotional programs through influential tour operators and travel agents). Cooperative-marketing programs (approximately 100) make up the largest segment of Brand USA's promotional efforts.

Highlighted achievements in 2016 include these indicators of marketing effectiveness:
  • Significant increases occurred in the measured rates of “intent to visit the United States,” ranging from 7 percent among international travelers from China to 99 percent among travelers from Mexico.
  • A new Brand USA website led to a 17-percent increase in page views, a 24-percent rise in the average duration of visits to the site and a 13-percent decrease in the bounce rate.
  • Innovative marketing campaigns generated 360.6 million social engagements (i.e., comments, likes, shares and video views, which was a 46-percent hike over the number of social engagements the previous year.
  • Brand USA has adhered to its policy of keeping overhead expenses below 10 percent each year. This allows Brand USA to allocate at least 90 percent of its resources toward marketing efforts that are designed to increase inbound international visitation to the United States.
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