U.S. Travel Industry Taps Rosanne Cash to Lure Visitors

The U.S. travel industry is kicking off a first-ever, $12.3 million marketing campaign, featuring an original song by country-music star Rosanne Cash.

Television, Internet and billboard ads will begin rolling out in the U.K., Canada and Japan starting May 1, said Jim Evans, chief executive officer of Washington-based Brand USA, a public-private marketing agency established by Congress in 2010.

The desire for travel to the U.S. has waned in the past decade as people said in polls that they knew enough about America from its films, TV shows and music, Evans said. Some U.S. economic, homeland-security and immigration policies during that time also made people around world believe America was “less welcoming” to tourists, he said.

“We knew we had to change people’s opinions,” Evans said in an interview. “It’s critical we show the U.S. as a nation of freedom, diversity and a lot of fun.”

The advertising campaign, with the tagline “Discover this land like never before,” will be unveiled today at the International Pow Wow travel-industry conference in Los Angeles.

Walt Disney Co., Marriott International and Best Western International each contributed $1 million for the marketing campaign The federal government is matching the contributions two for one, financed by exit fees collected on visitors leaving the U.S., Brand USA said on its website.

Brazil, South Korea

Marketing will expand to Brazil and South Korea on June 1, Evans said. The $12.3 million budget supports the first three months of the campaign.

The targeted countries were chosen based on the volume of travel to the U.S., the ease of gaining visas, how much visitors from those countries spend on average and the cost of advertising in those territories.

Foreign travelers to the U.S. spend $4,000 per trip on average, and each 35 incremental visitors results in a new job being created, Brand USA said, citing U.S. Travel Association data.

Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, composed “Land of Dreams” for the campaign and appears in commercials that feature the singer performing with other musicians from around the world under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

As part of the effort, musicians will be invited to perform in their favorite U.S. cities, with profiles of their trips appearing online and on social media. The videos, which also will feature actors, chefs and other celebrities talking about their favorite restaurants or attractions in America, will air on TV networks around the world, Evans said.

The U.S. campaign is coordinating closely with the leaders of New York, California and Las Vegas tourism efforts, Evans said. Still, he says Brand USA’s efforts will be more broad.

“‘You won’t just see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge or the Washington Monument in these spots,” Evans said. “This is a very broad-based ad that shows all of America.”

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