Republican Senators Question Brand USA’s Use of Funds to Promote Travel
Six Republican senators are seeking an investigation into Brand USA, a nonprofit public-private partnership that launched an international marketing campaign in April to promote the United States as a travel destination. In a letter to the Commerce Department, which oversees the corporation, the lawmakers said they were concerned about misuse of funds and specifically requested documents related to a launch party at the World Travel Market in London in November. Other requests include lists of all the group’s expenses and contributions from the travel industry, details about executive salaries and benefits, and an analysis of visitors to discoveramerica.com by country. Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jeff Sessions of Alabama signed the letter.
Established by the Travel Promotion Act signed by President Obama in 2010, Brand USA has a projected budget of $200 million budget. Donations from the private sector must provide at least half its funding. The remainder comes from a $14 fee charged to international visitors seeking authorization to travel to the United States from countries covered by the Visa Waiver Program. travelweekly.com