Thusday, January 19th President Barack Obama traveled to Walt Disney World. However, this was no ordinary vacation or celebration of some sports championship. Standing at the end of the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street U.S.A., President Obama issued an Executive Order aimed at increasing travel to the United States in the latest effort to boost the economy. Continue after the break for more details on the strategy, and the role travel and tourism plays in the US Economy.
During a global recession where rhetoric has pitted “Main Street vs. Wall Street”, it was no coincidence the President delivered his speech standing on a representation of 19th Century Main Street America in the highest attended amusement park in the world (16,972,000 in 2010; source Themed Entertainment Association).
In the address, President Obama cited travel and tourism as one of our Nation’s leading industries. US Travel Association data showed that travel to all United States destinations in 2010 alone generated $1.8 trillion to the US economy and supported 14 million American jobs. In addition, direct spending by those travelers averaged $2 billion/day. However, the President went on to say spending of international travelers had fallen more than 30% in the decade between 2000-2010. Therefore, the Executive Order called for a national strategy to make the United States the world’s number 1 travel and tourism destination, thus spurring job creation. “America is open for business,” President Obama told the crowd gathered in the Magic Kingdom.
In regards to the White House statement, Roger Dow, president of the US Travel Association, responded:
The steps the president took today are significant and will boost travel to and within the United States. His timing could not be better. Travel is an essential industry for our nation and a bipartisan issue that can unite our country and rally us forward.
Emerging economies with large populations – such as China, Brazil, and India – are projected to increase the number of travelers as much as 274% by 2016 compared to 2010. Therefore, President Obama will also sign an additional Executive Order to decrease barriers for citizens from these countries to travel to the United States by increasing visa processing capacity for China and Brazil, expanding the expedited travel Global Entry Program, and adding to the number of countries in the Visa Waiver Program. Brazil in particular is already a huge market for Central Florida tourism, and making it easier for Brazilians to travel to the US can only help the area’s theme parks.
Adrian Jones, General Manager of the newly opened LEGOLAND Florida theme park, called the President’s plan a “game-changer.”
An improved visa process helps us roll out the welcome mat to our friends in Brazil and will result in record numbers of young families visiting Florida. Cost and convenience historically are two of the biggest barriers in travel. By addressing the hassle factor and making the visa process less onerous, we’ve just substantially improved our chance of attracting additional guests.
The President’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy will seek to promote visits to “iconic American destinations” thereby expanding job creation within the United States. “Every 35 international visitors we welcome to the US generates one American job that can’t be outsourced,” said Roger Dow, president of the US Travel Association. The President’s Executive Order will also establish a Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness to shape the national strategy and set goals to ultimately increase the United States share of worldwide travel.
So what are your thoughts on President Barack Obama’s address given at the Magic Kingdom? Do you think the Executive Order will boost travel and tourism to the United States? Do you think it was appropriate for the President to deliver a major policy speech at a theme park? Or would you rather keep politics separate from your vacation? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.
Category: Disney World