- Associated Press - Friday, April 11, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Peter Welch is pushing for the government to reauthorize a global tourism initiative that he says can attract more visitors to Vermont.

Welch and Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida introduced an act that would extend the Brand USA program for five years. Brand USA is a voluntary public-private partnership.

Ski Vermont President Parker Riehle called Brand USA a “crucial partner” in bringing international visitors to ski areas.

Welch called continuing the program “a no-brainer.”

Officials say that its estimated Brand USA attracted 1.1 million additional visitors to the U.S. in 2013, who spent $3.4 billion.

Brand USA has been criticized by some lawmakers in the past due to concerns about federal matching funds.