Hawaii Lawmakers Push for Extension of Brand USA

April 10, 2014, 5:30 PM HST (Updated July 23, 2014, 1:37 PM)
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Hawaii’s congressional delegation has introduced a bill designed to continue a boost to international tourism.

The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act would reauthorize Brand USA for five more years.

Sen. Brian Schatz said the travel promotion program last year increased inbound travel by 2.3%, resulting in 1.1 million more visitors to the US.

Schatz said Brand USA helps promote Hawaii as a world-class visitor destination.

“Travelers to Hawai‘i spend billions of dollars that create jobs within the visitor industry, as well as jobs and small businesses that support our entire local economy,” he said in a press release.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the state’s tourism industry generated $14.5 billion in visitor spending in 2013, supporting 168,000 jobs.

Schatz and Sen. Mazie Hirono were among the bill’s co-sponsors on the Senate side. In the House, the legislation was introduced by members of the Congressional Travel & Tourism Caucus, of which both Hawaii Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa are members.

“Hawai‘i uniquely depends on tourism as the single-largest driver of our local economy,” Gabbard said in a statement.

“By reauthorizing Brand USA, we can continue to support and create tourism-related jobs in Hawai‘i and promote our beautiful islands to visitors from around the world,” she said.

“Through Brand USA’s public-private promotion efforts, we will welcome new and returning visitors to experience the incredible beauty and cultural diversity that Hawai‘i has to offer.”

The program, originally authorized by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, is funded by fees paid by international visitors and matching contributions from the private sector.

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