Skift Take

Fiscal hawks in Congress have put Brand USA under a microscope. At least Brand USA will now have a strong ally in the Commerce Department's presumed next secretary.

It’s nice to have friends in high places and the hotel industry and Brand USA likely will get just that as President Obama nominated Penny Pritzker to be the next Commerce Department secretary.

A billionaire and fellow Chicagoan who was co-chair of President Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, Pritzker is the daughter of Sue and Donald Pritzker, who co-founded Hyatt Hotels. The Pritzker family still owns the Hyatt chain, and Penny Pritzker is a board member, a position she likely would have to resign.

Reacting to Penny Pritzker’s nomination today, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson lauded the looming appointment.

“We want to especially congratulate Penny Pritzker,” Sorenson said. “We know she knows the lodging industry.”

Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, issued a statement:

“Penny Pritzker is a proven professional who is more than qualified to lead the U.S. Commerce Department.

“Her successful track record as an innovative business leader and entrepreneur makes her ideally suited to take charge of a Department focused on issues that directly impact U.S. economic growth. She brings unparalleled credentials to the U.S. Commerce Department as well as a unique and direct relationship to the travel industry through her lifelong affiliation with Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corporation.”

Pritzker is the founder and CEO of PSP Capital Partners and the Pritzker Realty Group.

“Penny is one of our country’s most distinguished business leaders,” Obama said in announcing her nomination at the White House. “She’s built companies from the ground up. She knows from experience that no government program alone can take the place of a great entrepreneur. “

There must be titters over at Brand USA over Pritzker’s nomination as it works closely with the Commerce Department to promote inbound tourism.

The Commerce secretary wields great power in relation to Brand USA.

The Commerce secretary nominates members to Brand USA’s board; reviews and approves its goals, and issue reports to Congress on Brand USA’s progress.

In addition, the Office of Travel Promotion within the Commerce Department is the liaison to Brand USA.

Pritzker won’t be able to roll over and consent to every part of Brand USA’s agenda, but having a hotel loyalist heading the department sure can help in this era of sequesters, fiscal hawks, and stingy government-travel per diems.

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Tags: brand usa, tourism

Photo credit: U.S. President Barack Obama nominates Pritzker and Froman at White House in Washington. Jason Reed / Reuters

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