Brand USA President & CEO reflects on successes and learnings of 2019

Chris Thompson - President & CEO Brand USA

Chris Thompson

President & CEO Brand USA


Dear Friends and Partners:

On Nov. 13, we welcomed our Board of Directors back to Washington, DC, for the first Board Meeting of the 2020 fiscal year. At this meeting we offered our thanks and expressed our appreciation to Barbara Richardson and Andrew Greenfield who are ending their tenure with the board. The board also elected a new set of officers, including a new chair (John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism); vice chairs (Mark Hoplamazian, president and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, and Alice Norsworthy, chief marketing officer of Universal Parks and Resorts); and treasurer (Kyle Edmiston, president/chief executive officer for Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau).

October saw the beginning of our fiscal year and the final 12 months of Brand USA’s current authorization period. The US Travel Association is leading an impressive effort with the Visit US coalition on behalf of the travel industry to secure Brand USA’s next reauthorization by Congress before the end of this, our 10th fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. On October 29, I testified before the House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce, where I laid out Brand USA’s successes and impact on the economy, as well as emphasized the importance of a timely passage to ensure similar future performance. As of Wednesday, Nov. 20, the bills to reauthorize Brand USA through fiscal year 2027 have passed out of committees of jurisdiction in both the House and Senate and are awaiting full passage by both chambers, hopefully along with other must pass legislation before calendar year end. If you weren’t able to tune in to the hearing, you can watch it here.

September is always a busy month at Brand USA, and this year was no exception. First, we launched the inaugural Brand USA Travel Week Europe in London connecting buyers from 170 pan-Europe tour operators with nearly 100 U.S. suppliers for 3 days of one-on-one appointments, an enrichment series, along with amazing evening activities and entertainment. Immediately following Travel Week, we hosted the 13th annual U.S.-China Tourism Leadership Summit in Seattle, Washington, at which government and tourism industry leaders expressed great optimism for the future of our bilateral cooperation. Finally, we ended the month with our annual India sales mission where we hosted 55 delegates from 40 supplier partners and launched our new “India Ready” training program.

Brand USA is:

  • Planning the release of our third giant-screen film, “Into America’s Wild,” premiering in our nation’s capital in February 2020. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the film depicts an outdoor journey by John Herrington, the first Native-American astronaut, and Ariel Tweto, an Alaskan pilot, as they visit scenic byways, hidden trails, ancient homelands, and other splendors of America’s landscape.

  • Planning to launch an inaugural Brand USA Travel Week Indian in October 2020 in Delhi. India is our #10 source market for inbound arrivals with 1.4 million visitors spending $15.8 billion (#6) in 2018.

  • Expanding our signature USA Discovery Program to France, Italy, and Spain. Our award-winning online travel agent training platform already is operational in 15 other countries.

  • Welcoming Poland as the 39th country to be designated for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), making residents of Poland eligible to visit the United States for tourism and business purposes for up to 90 days without having to obtain a U.S. visa.

  • Reminding domestic travelers to make sure they comply with the REAL ID-compliant driver’s license by Oct. 1, 2020 to board a federally-regulated aircraft, or access federal facilities in the United States.

As we enter our tenth year since passage of the Travel Promotion Act, our focus remains on our mission to welcome international visitors to the USA, sharing with them the endless travel experiences in our great country. We’re excited about the many new and innovative marketing initiatives which will kick off the new year, and look forward to sharing more with you in the months ahead.

Together, we are marketing the USA!

Chris Thompson

President & CEO

Brand USA