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Obama Admin aims to increase tourism in the U. S. via Disney World

Standing in front of Cinderella’s castle at Disney World in Orlando, President Obama declared another “can’t wait” executive order to boost tourism in the U.S. “This is the land where we do big things,” the President quipped in the Sunshine State.

It didn’t take long for GOP front-runner Mitt Romney to make light of the President’s Disney World location used to announce his new executive-order tourism plan. “Perhaps there’s some poetic justice in the President speaking from Fantasyland because I’m afraid, he’s been speaking from Fantasyland for some time now.”

Republican Presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich’s comments weren’t any nicer. “Obama was flanked by Donald Duck on one side and Goofy on the other, much like his cabinet.”

President Obama signed the executive order announcing new initiatives to increase travel and tourism in the United States. Currently the travel industry consists of approximately 2.7 percent of the U.S. GDP and represents 7.5 million jobs.

The “new” Obama executive order aims to create an additional 1 million jobs for the U.S. lagging economy over the next 10 years.

The administration’s announcement highlights a range of steps to promote America as a tourism destination and improve the secure visa processing process.

“Every year, tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America. And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. We need to help businesses all across the country grow and create jobs; compete and win. That’s how we’re going to rebuild an economy where hard work pays off, where responsibility is rewarded, and where anyone can make it if they try,” President Obama said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce claims that international travel accounted for $134 billion in U.S. exports in 2010.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis; “estimates that every additional 65 international visitors to the United States can generate enough exports to support an additional travel and tourism-related job. According to the travel industry and Bureau of Economic Analysis, international travel is particularly important as overseas or ‘long-haul’ travelers spend on average $4,000 on each visit.”

The new White House tourism strategy will focus on the emerging economies of China, Brazil and India. These three countries alone represented approximately $15 billion and thousands of jobs in 2010.

In addition, Chinese and Brazilian tourists spend between $5-6,000 per trip, according to the Department of Commerce.

In recent years, the Department of State has made progress in processing non-immigrant visas from key markets. Last fiscal year they processed 7.5 million visas. In the 2011 fiscal year, consular officers adjudicated more than one million visa applications in China, and 800,000 in Brazil.

-Some highlights of President Obama’s tourism Executive Order include;

The Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior will be charged with; Co-leading an interagency task force to develop recommendations for a National Travel & Tourism Strategy to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States, thereby expanding job creation. This Task Force will coordinate with the Corporation for Travel Promotion (currently doing business as BrandUSA), a non-profit corporation established by Congress through the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 to promote travel to the United States and the Tourism Policy Council to ensure private sector participation and cross-agency coordination.

A focus of the Task Force will be on strategies for increasing tourism and recreation jobs by promoting visits to our national treasures. The Department of the Interior manages iconic destinations in national parks, wildlife refuges, cultural and historic sites, monuments and other public lands that attract travelers from around the country and the globe. In 2010, more than 400 million visits were made by American and international travelers to these lands, contributing nearly $50 billion in economic activity and 400,000 jobs. Eco-tourism and outdoor recreation also have an outsize impact on rural economies, particularly in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

The Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security will be charged with; increasing non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent in 2012.

They will ensure that 80 percent of non-immigrant visa applicants be interviewed within three weeks of receipt of application.

Increasing efforts to expand the Visa Waiver Program and travel by nationals eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program, and expanding reciprocal trusted travel programs for expedited travel (such as the Global Entry program).

-Final Rule to Expand and Make the Global Entry Program Permanent:

Global Entry was a program within the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that was created in 2008 to facilitate expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Through a final rule, the Administration will expand and make the Global Entry program permanent. Due in part to innovative public-private partnerships, the Global Entry program now has more than 246,000 members, more than 1 million trusted travelers have Global Entry benefits, and efforts are underway to expand enrollment even further. There are currently 131 Global Entry kiosks located at 20 airports. Members have used Global Entry kiosks more than 1.7 million times, saving CBP officers over 36,450 inspection hours—staff hours that CBP has then re-allocated to expedite regular passenger queues.

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