Funding Constraints Require a New Approach To Support Tourism Information for Foreign Visitors

ID-82-41: Published: Sep 17, 1982. Publicly Released: Sep 17, 1982.

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GAO reported on how the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration (USTTA) consumer information program can be refocused to ensure that tourism information will continue to be available for distribution through USTTA foreign field offices.

The USTTA consumer information program distributes tourism literature to actual and potential foreign visitors and to members of the tourism industry. Because of uncertain funding, the program did not always have enough literature to distribute in 1981-82. The USTTA fiscal year 1983 budget request to Congress provided no funds for the program and USTTA plans to continue the program only if alternative funds can be obtained. However, efforts to obtain contributions from organizations that benefit from tourism have met with little success. If such funds are not obtained, future printing by USTTA of tourism information literature will be curtailed. GAO believes that the purposes of the consumer information program could be sustained by increased support from organizations that benefit from tourism. An alternative would be to increase the program's reliance on tourism literature produced by others. USTTA could encourage the formation of regional tourism promotion groups where none exist and help these groups and others to develop effective tourism literature. GAO believes that assistance in the development and translation of regional literature for USTTA markets can be provided by the present field office staff of USTTA. In addition, the necessary domestic coordination can be accomplished by USTTA headquarters staff incidental to their normal coordinative activities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recommendation was aimed at sustaining program activities within a very tight administration budget for USTTA. Fiscal year 1984 appropriations for USTTA is $12 million, $6.6 million more than budget. Its Marketing Plan placed high priority on the production of tourism brochures should funds in excess of the budget become available; thus, the recommendation is invalid.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Under Secretary of Commerce for Travel and Tourism to: (1) encourage and coordinate efforts of States, cities, and other appropriate entities not already regionally grouped to join together to develop regionally focused brochures; (2) have USTTA foreign offices provide advice and, where practical, assist regional trade promotion groups in brochure design, translation, and distribution efforts; and (3) work with regional groups to find ways to pay the costs of developing, printing, and shipping their brochures to USTTA regional offices.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce


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