PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — The first global marketing effort to promote the U.S. as a travel destination is starting to pay off, an official with Brand USA told New Hampshire tourism industry officials Tuesday.
Mike Fullerton of Brand USA joined U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in Portsmouth for a discussion of the state and nation's tourism promotion activities. His organization was established through legislation Shaheen co-sponsored in 2010, and last year launched a marketing campaign in Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom. Since then, the number of tourists who say they intend to travel to the United States from those countries has increased by between 14 and 22 percent, Fullerton said.
Last week, Brand USA began a new television, print and online ad campaign in Brazil and Mexico, and future plans include Australia, China and other markets, Fullerton said. The average Brazilian traveler spends $7,000 per trip to the U.S., Fullerton said, and every 33 foreign visitors amount to one new U.S. job created.
"Leaders like Sen. Shaheen have recognized the importance of that not only to the economy in New Hampshire, but to the U.S. economy as a whole," he said.
While tourism has increased globally over the last decade, the U.S. slice of those travelers has fallen, due in large part to complicated visa procedures and heightened security that followed the Sept. 11 attacks. The 10 years after the attacks are often referred to as the "lost decade" for U.S. tourism, because new procedures drove millions of international travelers to other countries.
Jeff Rose, commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development, said New Hampshire is starting to see the benefits of Brand USA's initial efforts and is excited about the next steps.
"We're just catching this wave," he said. "We have a lot of forward opportunities and growth before us."
Tourism is New Hampshire's second largest industry, behind manufacturing, and accounts for more than 60,000 jobs statewide. As governor, Shaheen led several international trade missions to promote the state and its tourism industry and has continued those efforts in the Senate.
"We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of how much benefit we're going to see in the United States and here in New Hampshire," Shaheen said.
The group discussed several ways Brand USA could help New Hampshire tourist attractions and other businesses, including working with Portsmouth to attract Japanese visitors to the city where the 1905 treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War was signed or promoting the state's craft beer breweries as part of a larger tour.
After the president of Nemo Equipment, a Nashua company that makes tents, backpacks and other camping gear, described his success selling products in Japan, Fullerton suggested having retail stores there promote both the equipment and travel to New Hampshire.
He also encouraged others to provide photos, videos and other content that could be featured on the Brand USA website to promote the state. Valerie Rochon, tourism manager of the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, said that's a good idea, but it is not as effective as face-to-face contact with either foreign tour operators or consumers themselves. She said she hoped Brand USA would help smaller groups attend more trade shows.
"We're always in the position of being the little guy who wants to play," she said.