Sorin Dutoiu, at 6 May. 24, in News

Chris Thompson steps Down as Brand USA’s President & CEO and announced, during a press conference at U.S. Travel Association’s IPW 2024, that Brand USA has ambitious goals, aiming for 90 million annual visitors by 2027.

In a momentous event marking the end of an era and the dawn of a new chapter, Chris Thompson bid farewell as the president and CEO of Brand USA, the nation’s premier destination marketing organization. 

Thompson, a stalwart in the industry with over a decade of service, delivered his final press conference during the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW 2024, where Brand USA stood as the premier sponsor.

He announced that Brand USA has ambitious goals outlined in the 2022 National Travel and Tourism Strategy, aiming to welcome 90 million visitors annually who will collectively spend $279 billion by 2027. The latest forecasts by Tourism Economics suggest that nearly 78 million visitors will grace the shores of the USA by the end of 2024, with spending by international travelers expected to witness a substantial 74 percent growth between 2023 and 2027.

To capitalize on these promising trends and global events, Brand USA is gearing up to engage consumers in innovative ways. Events such as WorldPride in Washington, DC, the 100th Anniversary of Route 66, FIFA World Cup, and the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles present golden opportunities for the organization to further elevate the United States as a premier travel destination.

Under Thompson’s leadership, the U.S. international inbound travel industry has exhibited remarkable resilience, showcasing a clear resurgence in travel enthusiasm. In his parting words, Thompson expressed both nostalgia and optimism, stating, “While retiring is bittersweet for me personally, the industry is strong, and Brand USA is well positioned, which gives me the confidence to step aside.”

The statistics paint a vivid picture of this resilience and growth. Last year, the United States welcomed nearly 67 million visitors, who collectively spent a staggering $213 billion on travel and tourism-related activities within the country—an impressive 28 percent increase over the previous year. Notably, inbound visitation from India has already surpassed 2019 levels, with several other countries poised to achieve this milestone in 2025, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

Brand USA’s recent research underscores the United States as the top aspirational destination for international travelers, ranking first among likely visitors from Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, and Mexico. Of particular note is the surge in intent to visit the USA among Chinese visitors, with a remarkable 55 percent expressing a desire to travel to the country, marking the highest level in March 2024.

During the press conference, Todd Davidson, Brand USA’s board chair and CEO of Travel Oregon, welcomed Fred Dixon as the incoming president and CEO. Dixon, currently serving as the CEO of New York City Tourism + Conventions, will assume his role at Brand USA on July 15, 2024, carrying forward the organization’s legacy of inviting international travelers to experience the unparalleled beauty and diversity of the United States.

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