Tourism & Cruises

‘Welcome to the USA’: International travelers get a taste of Miami with new airport posters

Miami International Airport wants to give foreign travelers a sampling of all things #SoMiami in a new marketing campaign aimed at adding a personal and welcoming touch to the extensive international arrival process.

Miami is the launch pad for the “Market the Welcome” program created by Brand USA, a partnership organization between the federal government and the travel industry aimed at marketing the U.S. to international travelers that began Thursday.

MIA’s international arrivals Concourses D and J — as well as federal inspection service areas — are the first in the nation decked with welcome signage and digital displays visible to passengers as they step off the plane and pass through to baggage claim. “Thank you for visiting the USA,” some read, with images of Miami’s skyline or South Beach.

The effort is expected to brighten the experience for international travelers who have to traipse through lengthy processing lines.

“The highest priority is security … but we can do that in a hospitable way, we can find ways to make the experience as seamless as possible,” said Christopher Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA, in an interview.

MIA welcomed 21.2 million international travelers in 2015, making it the second-largest gateway airport for foreign passengers after New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

But almost 50 percent of all overnight visitors to Miami are international — the highest percentage of any destination in the country, said William D. Talbert, III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, in a release.

That is why Brand USA chose Miami to lead the campaign, Thompson said.

“Miami’s share of the overall travel, half of that is directly attributed to international business,” he said. “And there’s no better point to make people feel welcome than when they arrive. That’s the key part of the whole thing, is really just creating a welcoming environment and doing so through storytelling. ”

The campaign is part of a larger national goal developed by the Homeland Security and Commerce departments to provide a “best-in-class arrival experience” while maintaining high national security standards.

The program is expected to extend to Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport next, with plans for Orlando International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, JFK International Airport and others in the works.