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United States Flag U.S. International Travel and Tourism Advertising and Promotional Campaign

U.S. International Travel and Tourism Advertising and Promotional Campaign

On February 20, 2003, President Bush signed the Omnibus Appropriation Act for FY 2003 into law. Included in this appropriation was Sec. 210, which authorized the Secretary of Commerce to award grants and make lump sum payments in support of an international advertising and promotional campaign to encourage individuals to travel to the United States. The Omnibus Appropriation both authorized and appropriated $50,000,000 for this campaign.

The Act requires the Secretary to appoint the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, which will recommend appropriate coordinated activities to the Secretary for funding. The Board will comprise CEO’s of tourism-related entities. The Secretary will consult with the Board as well as State and regional tourism officials on the disbursement of funds.

As currently conceptualized, the appropriated funds will be divided between an international umbrella marketing campaign and a grant program which will be coordinated with the umbrella campaign. A multi-year advertising and promotional campaign, leveraged with additional, matching funding from travel and tourism businesses and organizations, will ensure maximum impact.

The umbrella campaign would seek to leverage the Federal dollars and would focus upon four to six of the top markets for travel to the United States. The campaign ingredients and content would be designed in conjunction with the Board, to include market and evaluation research, consumer and trade advertising, and promotion focusing on earned media. This would include discussions with international tour operators, and ITA’s commercial service officers and Visit USA committees within each market.

In order to leverage funding and optimize participation in the grant program, priority will be given to regional tourism organizations, whose membership represents diverse travel and tourism entities, including state tourism offices, local convention and visitor bureaus and the private sector. However, geographically disparate states may also be eligible for grants.

The grants would be administrated in such a way as to complement the umbrella marketing campaign and seek to leverage the federal dollars with cash contributions from states and the private sector. Some in-kind contributions may also be considered. By way of example, the Department of Commerce currently offers the Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP), which is a matching grant program administered through the International Trade Administration. The MDCP program requires a 2-1 leverage of private sector to federal dollars, designed to support export expansion. While we do not plan on funding any current MDCP programs with monies appropriated under Sec. 210, it does provide a model to deliver the funds.

Research will be a key component to evaluate the impact of the campaign. The research scope would include a benchmark survey of targeted countries, testing of the campaign concept and content, and consumer sentiment survey after the campaign to measure increased awareness and bookings, estimate increases in travelers and expenditures, and the return on investment.