• Written by Camila Clark

WASHINGTON D.C. – Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States, in partnership with Explore Minnesota and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, has unveiled a new program called “Market the Welcome” to inspire and welcome international visitors with the Minnesota experience. The program is now live in both terminals at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).

“Brand USA and our partners can provide the most inspirational and compelling storytelling about our country around the world,” said Christopher Thompson, Brand USA president and CEO. “That story begins the moment international travelers arrive in the United States where we have the opportunity to extend the spirit of hospitality to and thank our guests for choosing the USA for their travel experience. Explore Minnesota and MSP officials are leaders in recognizing this critical need and will provide a model as we roll out the program around the country.”

MSP is the third airport in the nation to implement the program as an integral part of Brand USA's new branding and marketing strategies. The program works in support of the country's national goal and airport-specific action plans developed by the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce in response to President Obama's Presidential Memorandum on entry policy in May 2014. The national goal calls for the United States to “provide a best-in-class arrival experience, as compared to our global competitors, to an ever-increasing number of international visitors while maintaining the highest standards of national security.”

“Tourism supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and generates over $13 billion a year in economic activity in Minnesota alone. There is huge, untapped potential to expand the international tourism market, which will benefit local economies not only in Minnesota, but across the country. In fact, each overseas traveler spends approximately $4,400 when they visit the U.S.," said Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the bipartisan Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus. “That's why I've championed efforts to increase tourism to our country, including reauthorizing Brand USA through 2020. The new 'Market the Welcome' campaign at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will help give an even warmer Minnesota welcome to international visitors to our state.”

Comprised of welcoming signage and digital displays that showcase high-impact, inspirational imagery of all aspects of the Minnesota experience, the program is designed to provide travelers a warm and seamless arrival experience as they proceed through immigration and passport control and on through international baggage claim and baggage re-check and exit.

“For millions of travelers each year, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is their first experience of Minnesota, and for connecting passengers it might be their only experience,” said Brian Ryks, executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission. “We want to do all we can to make that experience a positive one and to encourage travelers to use our airport and choose our community when planning their next trip.”

The Market the Welcome program is designed specifically for gateway airports, offering customized display graphics and templates with welcoming messaging, impactful photography and more – all of which is customized to feature local attractions, history, cuisine and personality. It features high-impact signage and digital displays and focuses specifically on the environment inside the federal inspection service areas and international baggage claim prior to clearing customs.

“Minnesota has always wished to extend a warm welcome to international travelers. This new program helps strengthen that message to make Minnesota a desirable destination for visitors throughout the globe,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota. “The imagery portrays an array of outdoor adventures, cosmopolitan cities and one-of-a-kind attractions that can be found only in Minnesota, inspiring visitors to explore destinations all across the state.”

Brand USA has a similar program with U.S. embassies in which display graphics, video, photography, and informational travel pieces adorn Consular rooms. This public-private collaboration on the front lines helps improve the visa application experience and showcase a wide breadth of experiences that travelers can have in the United States.

In 2014, 75 million international travelers who visited the U.S. spent a record $221 billion on goods and services, with direct support for 1.1 million jobs from international visitor travel-related spending, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Overseas visitors spend approximately $4,300 per trip, stay an average of 17 days, and generate tax revenue in communities across the United States without burdening local services.

About Brand USA
Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States, was established by the Travel Promotion Act as the nation's first public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and to communicate U.S. visa and entry policies and procedures to worldwide travelers. The organization's mission is to increase international visitation to the USA in order to fuel the U.S. economy and enhance the image of the United States worldwide. Formed as the Corporation for Travel Promotion in 2010, the public-private entity began operations in May 2011 and does business as Brand USA. According to studies by Oxford Economics, over the past three years Brand USA's marketing initiatives helped welcome more than 3 million incremental visitors to the USA, benefiting the U.S. economy with nearly $21 billion in total economic impact, which has supported an average of nearly 50,000 incremental jobs a year.