Rhode Island could be exactly where international visitors want to travel, if only the state could somehow capture its own piece of that market share, something that often is accomplished by joining forces with other New England states.
International travelers want, according to industry leaders behind the U.S.’ first-ever marketing campaign and strategic plan, to experience a United States vacation they’ve not heard of or been exposed to – and that means not relying on time-tested attractions to draw them here.
“We don’t want to talk about Disney World like it’s been talked about for years. [Getting] off the beaten path is the reason people travel,” said Keri Hanson, social media and marketing manager for Brand USA, the national campaign name of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, the congressionally chartered organization responsible for marketing the United States.
“We want to be able to say, whatever experience you’re looking for, you can find it here,” she said.
Hanson and Isabel Hill, team leaders for policy and planning the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, addressed a small group of Rhode Island and Massachusetts tourism-industry professionals at a Pawtucket seminar Oct. 23 focused on how cities, states and regions could benefit from Brand USA.
The seminar was sponsored by the Sustainable Tourism Lab, a consulting and education business that works in shaping tourism-development programs with internationally practiced tourism strategies.
Hill also is co-author of the U.S. Tourism Strategy order by President Barack Obama early this year and released last May with a goal of attracting 100 million international travelers to the United States by 2021.
The Corporation for Travel Promotion was created from the Travel Promotion Act of 2010. It is funded through the ESTA [Electronic System for Travel Authorization] fund into which travelers from 36 visa-waiver countries pay $14 to come here and from private cash and in-kind contributions.
The group, doing business as Brand USA, unveiled its global marketing campaign last year and has since been promoting collaboration with regions and states through partnerships – some paid and some conducted through marketing-material donations – as a key to its own success.