• Welch touts tourism program
     | April 14,2014

    MONTPELIER — Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., is pushing for the government to reauthorize a global tourism initiative that he says can attract more visitors to Vermont.

    Welch and Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida introduced an act that would extend the Brand USA program for five years. Brand USA is a voluntary public-private partnership.

    “Brand USA is making a tremendous contribution to US tourism,” Welch said in a statement issued last week. “This program works with the private sector to attract visitors to Vermont and attractions across the country. It’s a no-brainer to continue this partnership that is clearly having a positive economic impact.”

    Ski Vermont President Parker Riehle called Brand USA a “crucial partner” in bringing international visitors to ski areas.

    Welch called continuing the program “a no-brainer.”

    Officials say that it’s estimated Brand USA attracted 1.1 million additional visitors to the U.S. in 2013, who spent $3.4 billion.

    Brand USA has been criticized by some lawmakers in the past due to concerns about federal matching funds.

    “Having just returned from IPW in Chicago which is the largest international trade show in the U.S., it is clear that BrandUSA is leading us to much success in the marketplace,” Megan Smith, Vermont’s commissioner for Tourism and Marketing, said in a press release. “Vermont had a team of 12 people in our booth and had the best set of appointments we have ever experienced from both media and tour operators. The interest in Vermont is from all over the world.”

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