US tourism industry promotes the country as a destination with travel website launch

The US tourism industry is to unveil an official travel and tourism website as pressure grows on the federal government to set up a body to promote the country overseas.

The move will mark the first time that the US has promoted itself as a destination. Previously marketing has been undertaken by individual states, destinations and attractions.

The site, DiscoverAmerica.com, goes live in March, with an official launch in April. It has been set up with a $3.9m (£2m) grant from the US department of commerce. The Travel Industry Association (TIA) in the US has spearheaded the project with Tribal DDB as the lead creative agency.

Other partners backing the venture include Travelocity – the site’s official booking engine – state tourist bodies and brands such as American Express and Yahoo!.

There are different versions of the site tailored to visitors from the UK, Canada, Germany, Japan and Mexico.

The US government had previously funded short-term ad campaigns for the UK and Japanese markets, including ads in the UK using the strapline/ “You’ve seen the movie, now visit the set”.

The tourism drive comes as the US economy heads towards recession and the country battles a global image problem. A Travel Promotion Act is under consideration in the House of Representatives, the lower house of the US Congress.

A federal tourism body has been touted as a way of stimulating the economy and promoting the country overseas, after a 17% fall in visitor numbers after 9/11.

“At a time when policymakers are desperately seeking a stimulant for the American economy, travel promotion is a no-brainer,” says TIA president Roger Dow.

A TIA spokeswoman adds: “We believe that travel and tourism can improve our image overseas.”

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