Brian Maggiotto: Post-pandemic tourism activity in Vermont gets a big boost

This review is by Brian Maggiotto, owner and operator of The Inn at Manchester.

In the competitive world of international travel, the United States has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most popular destinations for travelers around the world.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has severely limited global travel, affecting small businesses and workers who rely on international guests. Fortunately, Congress came together to provide much-needed support to this vital industry by passing the Restoring Brand USA Act.

Tourism is part of the engine of Vermont’s economy. After two long years of necessary pandemic restrictions, every sector of our tourism industry is eager to expedite the return of visitors to our state and community. This includes in particular travelers from other countries.

Given the challenges, international travel has been slow to recover in Vermont, including from key inbound markets like Canada and the UK. That’s why we’re so grateful to Congressman Peter Welch for his leadership in passing the Restoring Brand USA Act, which is critical to reviving international travel to Vermont.

Brand USA is a public-private partnership that supports American jobs and economic activity by promoting international travel to the United States, all at no cost to American taxpayers.

As the days get warmer and longer, local businesses will benefit from Brand USA’s efforts to bring tourists to our state in the months ahead. With the help of this valuable program, we look forward to welcoming visitors back to our great state.

The passage of the Restoring Brand USA Act as part of a broader funding package shows that Congress understands the critical role inbound international travel plays in stimulating our economy.

Prior to the pandemic, international travel was our country’s number one services export and the industry’s second largest export overall, generating $239 billion in total travel exports and supporting nearly 1.2 million American jobs.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has drastically reduced international visits. While domestic leisure travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, international travel spending in the United States is still about 78% below 2019 levels. Economic forecasts predict that international travel spending will not recover until 2024 without this significant federal support.

The reduction in international travel to the United States also impacted Brand USA’s source of funding. Half of its budget is generated by a fee that international visitors from Visa Waiver Program countries pay when applying to come to the United States.

Without the influx of visitors during the pandemic, that support evaporated, and without federal assistance, it might have lain dry for years. The recently passed Restoring Brand USA Act provided one-time emergency funding to restart and reinvigorate returning traveler work in Vermont.

Brand USA can help the travel, hospitality and other service industries that depend on international visitors by reviving promotional campaigns in critical source markets and driving demand that will reinvigorate the US travel economy. As a bonus, this support comes without tax dollars. The source of this one-time emergency funding comes from previously collected excess visitation fees. These fees offer an excellent return on investment.

Since its inception in 2009, Brand USA has helped bring more than 7.5 million international visitors to our shores, with a total economic impact of $55 billion. This spending supports more than 52,000 American jobs that cannot be automated or outsourced. For every dollar spent through Brand USA, the return on investment is 25 to 1. This valuable program is a shining example of how we can help reinvigorate pandemic-affected industries without incurring additional debt.

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Tags: Brand USA, Brian Maggiotto, COVID-19, Inn at Manchester, international travel

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