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United States Flag Status of International Promotion Program Funding
Status of International Promotion Program Funding
(as of December 12, 2003)

As you may know, the federal government has been operating on a continuing resolution since October 1, 2003 because Congress has not voted on the various spending packages presented for each of the federal departments/agencies.

As has happened in the past, Congress bundled the remaining seven departmental/agency budgets together in to an Omnibus Budget Package for consideration as a “lump sum” to be approved by a simple majority vote in both the House and the Senate.

On Monday, December 8th, the House voted to forward the Conference Report to the Senate.

Part of the Omnibus budget package for FY’04 contained a rescission of $40 million of the $50 million appropriated by Congress in February 2003 for the purposes of launching an international promotion campaign aimed at encouraging renewed travel to the United States.

The Travel and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board met on Monday, December 8, 2003. Not surprisingly, there was much discussion about the possible rescission of 80% of this landmark program’s funding.

The Senate is not expected to vote on the Conference Report/Omnibus Budget Bill until they return from the holiday recess (on or about January 20, 2004). Because Omnibus packages cannot be opened for debate, it is likely that this will come to pass as outlined, when the Senate returns and votes.

It is our desire to have the campaign enter the marketplace in spring 2004. Because of the critical nature of the timeline, we are moving ahead on the aggressive schedule we outlined to the Advisory Board at the meeting on 12/8/03, assuming full funding will be available.

The Request for Quotation (RFQ) that is being developed includes a caveat stating that the RFQ will be competed subject to the amount of available funding. The RFQ is to be released on Friday, December 19, 2003.

The proposed timeline for the advertising and public relations campaign is extremely tight, as indicated by the following schedule:

Bidders submit contractor capability package – January 7, 2004
Initial down-select – January 9, 2004
Written proposals due – January 21, 2004
Evaluation, oral proposals, negotiations and clearances – mid-February
Award delivery order – February 20, 2004

Simultaneous to this effort, a potential series of travel writer familiarization tours from each of the five key markets may be launched.

Additionally, other staff is working to develop a destination marketing grants program. The program’s guidelines are being written now, and will be provided to destination marketing organizations as soon as a theme/logo/tag line is developed and approved for the promotion campaign.

Until such time as the Senate votes on the Conference Report/Omnibus Budget Bill, we have no choice but to continue to move forward as though full funding were going to be available.

In the interim, the Travel and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board is working to develop alternate planning concepts in the event that the rescission is affected.

The Department has turned to the Board for insight as to what alternate plans may be considered if the Senate does pass the Omnibus Budget Bill, which includes, among other rescissions totaling $200 million, the 80% decrease in funding for the international marketing promotion program.