Brand USA CEO Evans Resigns; Beteta Takes Job on Interim Basis
By James Shillinglaw
June 21, 2012 9:49 PM
Brand USA, the organization formed to promote travel to the United States, said that its chief executive officer, James Evans, is stepping down and will be replaced in the interim by Brand USA Chairman-elect Caroline Beteta.
Brand USA’s board of directors has begun a search for Evans' replacement. Evans’ agreement to resign was reached in consultation with the board. The organization is positioning the move as part its evolution from a start-up endeavor group to truly becoming the nation's signature destination marketing organization. Beteta, CEO of Visit California and a longtime tourism industry veteran, will assume the interim CEO post immediately and a search will take place for Evans’ successor.
"We thank Jim for the time, energy and passion he has brought to establishing this enterprise," said Beteta. "Brand USA has hit critical milestones in its development and now is at an important transition point. Our focus going forward is to build on the momentum the organization has established by increasing and deepening our partnerships with the travel industry, building out co-op marketing opportunities to attract increased private-sector funding, and enhancing our responsiveness and communications with our government partners."
For his part, Evans, who most recently served as president and CEO of Best Western before being named to the Brand USA post in May 2011, said he was gratified at how much progress Brand USA made over the past year. "I know I leave Brand USA with a great foundation and a strong team that will take the organization forward,” he said.
Brand USA is a national program with the mission of attracting billions of dollars in increased visitor spending to the U.S., which will create tens of thousands of new jobs. In its first year of operation, Brand USA said it has achieved numerous accomplishments including: Establishing a fully integrated marketing, sales, research, partnership and development strategy; developing a strong brand identity; creating a state-of-the-art website to promote the United States worldwide and provide travelers important information about U.S. entry policies and procedures; creating the nation's tourism marketing campaign and launching the first wave in three top-tier markets -- Japan, Canada and the U.K.; and establishing partnerships with more than 250 industry organizations, which will raise more than $10 million in industry contributions and more than $30 million in in-kind contributions.
On the other hand, critics have said Brand USA had not succeeded in getting the funding it needed for a major campaign from private or public sources. Some Republican congressmen also had recently questioned how the organization had used the funds it has already received. Brand USA’s marketing plan was unveiled at Pow Wow in Los Angeles in May.
Brand USA was established by the Travel Promotion Act in 2010 to spearhead the country’s first global marketing effort to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and communicate U.S. entry/exit policies and procedures. Formed as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, the public-private entity began operations in May 2011 and does business as Brand USA.