Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA

One big welcome?

The proposed budget cut for Brand USA was not the only ‘elephant in the room’ when the organisation’s president and CEO Chris Thompson addressed 500 media from 70 countries at the official IPW 2017 press conference in Washington DC yesterday.
The other was President Trump’s not particularly welcoming executive order limiting travel from six predominantly Muslim countries.

And that particular elephant grew a little bigger when Brand USA’s new ‘One Big Welcome’ project – documentary-style welcome messages to international travellers from ordinary Americans. To some, the campaign served as an uncomfortable contrast to Trump's order.
When faced with questions on Trump’s travel policy changes Thompson insisted ‘it’s more of a perception than a reality.
‘It’s no different to any other new administration coming in when they have made promises on the campaign trail.’
Thompson admits that some markets are more sensitive to the political landscape. ‘But in reality, so far there is no demonstrable proof that people aren’t coming (to the USA).
‘What makes the USA the USA has not changed and we will continue to focus on that.’
And despite a possible budget cut, Brand USA is not considering slowing down or cutting activity and campaigns. ‘We are not event thinking about it,’ says Thompson.
The ‘One Big Welcome’ project is currently being rolled at IPW with attendees asked to make their own welcome videos by responding to a series of five questions tailored for both US and non-US residents. Interviewers will ask the questions in order to stimulate responses that share an overall consistency.
One of the questions asks: ‘If an international visitor were only here for a day or two, what’s the one thing they should do and why?’
‘When people travel, it’s the local residents they meet who really make their trips special,’ says Thompson. ‘The residents often want visitors to see and experience what they love about their hometowns. That is the foundation of our ‘One Big Welcome’ project.’


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