Obama outlines plans to boost American tourism
American president Barack Obama has outlined a series of initiatives designed to boost international visitor numbers to the United States.
Included in the measures were plans to expand the Global Entry System, which makes it easier for frequent visitors to cross borders, and expand the number of nations whose citizens could enter the country without a visa.
Tourism is the number one service export from the United States.
In 2010, the country welcomed nearly 60 million international visitors who contributed $134 billion to the local economy.
Speaking from Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, president Obama said: “I have directed my administration to send me a new national tourism strategy focused on creating jobs.
“We are going to see how we can make it easier for foreign tourists to find basic information about visiting America.
“And we are going to see how we can attract more tourists to our national parks.
“We want people visiting not just Epcot Center, but the Everglades, too.
“The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work.
“It’s that simple,” he told an audience on Main Street at the park.
The president added his goal was to ensure the United States is the top tourist destination in the world.
And in changing world where the middle class is booming in places like China, India, and Brazil, the president announced steps to make it easier for people from those countries to choose the United States as a place for their vacations.
He added: “I am directing the state department to accelerate our ability to process visas by 40 per cent in China and in Brazil this year.
“We are not talking about five years from now or ten years from now - this year.”
The remarks have been warmly welcomed.
World Travel & Tourism Council president David Scowsill branded the move “a major step forward”, while American Express also offered its support.
Chief executive, Ken Chenault, who also sits on the Obama-initiated Jobs Council, said: “The initiatives the president announced earlier will help to expand travel and tourism to the United States and recapture our share of a growing, global market.”