Marketing America isn't some walk in the national park; I get it. But since it's just that tough to accomplish, shouldn't those tasked to do so have some sort of plan brewing?
Since passage of the Travel Promotion Act
in September 2008, the travel and tourism industry has waited for the Corporation For Travel Promotion to take flight. Thus far, the corporation apparently has done little to truly push forward a comprehensive marketing strategy. Only just recently did it name former hotel executive Jim Evans as CEO.
Hailed as a great victory for the travel industry, the Travel Promotion Act authorized the government to charge some incoming tourists a $14 fee
to enter the United States, of which $10 would be used to promote and market travel and tourism to the United States. Those required to pay the fee are travelers from Visa Waiver Program countries
The corporation's board of directors since January 2011 has held monthly meetings in an attempt to piece together a plan that is supposed to be ready by October 1. That's when the corporation will gain access to funds collected from incoming travelers. A total of more than $105 million already has been collected, of which $74 million is earmarked for tourism marketing. The rest covers administrative costs.
Evans in a recent interview acknowledged that there's much to do in the little time remaining. "Right now I am the only employee," he said. "Getting ourselves organized is our first step. We have to design what we look like. What is our organization? We don't have a business plan yet; we haven't hired a single person yet--so we are really at the beginning stages of this whole issue.
"Next thing is really to hire our chief marketing officer to begin to develop our marketing relationships and then our marketing strategy in order to have the appropriate messaging with the goal of launching something by mid-fall," Evans continued. "On top of that we need to develop the strategies with the private sector to raise the matching funds."
Given the travel community's support, Evans remained optimistic about the October launch and said the corporation next month would start taking greater strides forward. I'll be sure to check back with him as that October launch approaches.