Airport arrivals area spiffed up for international visitors to Atlanta

8:50 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 Travel
A portion of a welcome message for international travelers to Atlanta. Source: Brand USA

An effort to make airports more welcoming to international visitors has expanded to the world’s busiest airport.

Public-private partnership Brand USA partnered with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and Georgia’s Department of Economic Development to install images of Atlanta and Georgia in sterile-looking U.S. Customs and Border Protection areas at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The panels installed a few weeks ago with welcome messages in multiple languages were developed by Brand USA, which is funded by a $14 registration fee paid by travelers from visa waiver countries, with airport funding for printing and installation.

Atlanta is the fifth city in the campaign, after Chicago, New Orleans, Miami and Minneapolis. Plans are to roll it out at all major gateways.

“A lot of the arrival halls at our international airport gateways tend to be very stoic and maybe not quite as welcoming,” said Brand USA president Chris Thompson. “It’s really just taking what might be stark and white walls and creating a more appealing and visual image of the surrounding area.”

The Brand USA program started three years ago, but more recently amid concerns over proposed travel bans, industry group U.S. Travel Association has urged the Trump administration “to make clear that new security measures are squarely aimed at bad actors, while legitimate business and leisure travelers are as welcome as ever in the United States.”

Thompson said: “For the vast majority of people who come to the United States, with a visa or not, very little has changed…. Our job is to clarify the perception vs the reality.”