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Visit California President and CEO new face of Brand USA

Visit California President and CEO new face of Brand USA

Visit California President and CEO Caroline Beteta has been named, by vote of the Brand USA board of directors, Chair-Elect of the Brand USA Board. The election designates her as the next board Chair for fiscal year 2013, which begins on October 1, 2012. In addition, she has been named interim CEO of the organization following the departure of Jim Evans, who stepped down from his position as CEO of Brand USA effective June 22, 2012. Beteta will continue in her role as President and CEO of Visit California.

“I am honored to take the reins of Brand USA as Chair-Elect and Interim CEO,” Beteta said. “Brand USA began as just an idea a little more than a year ago, and I have been fully committed to its long-term viability and success, and remain committed to those goals today.”

As President and CEO of Visit California, Beteta oversees a $50 million marketing plan that includes integrated global brand campaigns, extensive travel trade and media programs in 12 international markets and localized digital resources for consumers and trade. The highly experienced executive team at Visit California will allow Beteta to assume these new national roles while ensuring the success of California’s important program.

“This is a win-win-win for Brand USA, the U.S. travel industry and California,” said Kathy Turner, Vice President, Legislative and Government Affairs of Enterprise Holdings, owner and operator of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental, and Visit California’s Vice Chair of Operations. “Caroline provides the perfect transitional leadership and can hit the ground running since she has been an integral part of the organization from the beginning. Moreover, she has the policy background and experience selling California to international markets to take the United States’ tourism marketing effort to the next level, using the successful Visit California programs as the prototype. This means more exposure and more opportunities to leverage Visit California’s partnership with Brand USA and its global marketing programs. ”

Beteta’s first priority as chair-elect will be to spearhead the search for a new CEO while serving as Interim CEO of the organization to ensure a smooth transition. In its first year, Brand USA has achieved important milestones, including establishing the organization and its offices; recruiting and developing a highly talented executive team, creating the Brand USA brand and launching the marketing program, and securing millions of dollars in industry commitments and partnerships.


“We thank Jim for his time, energy and the passion he brought to this endeavor,” said Beteta. “As we move into the next phase, we are looking for an executive who can build on the momentum Brand USA established during its start-up year to increase our partnerships with the travel industry, build out co-op marketing opportunities to attract and increase private-sector funding, and enhance our responsiveness to our government partners.”

Brand USA is a national program with a mission of attracting billions of dollars in increased visitor spending to the United States, which will create tens of thousands of new jobs.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to compete in the global marketplace and promote the United States as a premiere international travel destination, said Beteta. “We must not only maintain but grow the $800 billion travel industry, which supports 7.6 million American jobs, generates tax revenues and promotes cultural appreciation.”

Brand USA was created as a result of the Travel Promotion Act (TPA), federal legislation passed in March 2010 which established a public-private partnership between the travel industry and the U.S. government dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts to drive job creation and spur economic growth. The program is funded through private sector contributions matched by fees paid by international travelers to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) program. No U.S. tax payer dollars are used to operate the organization.

The impact of travel is staggering: in 2011, domestic and international travelers spent a projected $820 billion in the U.S., an increase of 8.0 percent over 2010 (sources: U.S. Travel and OTTI). Of this total, $704 billion was spent by domestic travelers (7.5 percent increase from 2010) (U.S. Travel) - and $116 billion by international travelers to the United States (12 percent increase from 2010) (OTTI).

Prior to passage of the TPA, the United States had been the only industrialized nation without a nationally coordinated program to attract this lucrative market. It is estimated by 2014 total U.S. travel expenditures will exceed $900 billion. According to the U.S. Travel Association, the average overseas visitor to the United States spends $4,000 per trip, and 33 incremental overseas visitors supports one new U.S. job.

Beteta’s vast experience on Brand USA’s board and other advocacy efforts, including the annual Travel Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., Western States Tourism Policy Council and the Border Governor’s Conference and Tourism Worktable, were key to her selection for the CTP board. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke selected the board members in consultation with the Departments of State and Homeland Security, and they represent the diversity of the industry – from hospitality and passenger rail to the airline industry and convention and visitors bureaus. She has also managed high-profile trade and promotional activities in various primary, secondary and tertiary global markets – including planning and participating in several major international trade and tourism missions directly on behalf of several California Governors.