Full Text January 21, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address on Creating Jobs by Boosting Tourism

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama tells the American people about a series of steps he’s taken without the help of Congress to grow the economy and create jobs — including a new strategy aimed at boosting tourism introduced this week.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 1/20/12

Weekly Address: America is Open for Business

Source: WH, 1-21-12

President Obama tells the American people about a series of steps he’s taken without the help of Congress to grow the economy and create jobs — including a new strategy aimed at boosting tourism introduced this week. In next week’s State of the Union Address, the President will outline his blueprint for creating an economy built to last.

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POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Creating Jobs by Boosting Tourism

In this week’s address, President Obama told the American people about steps his Administration is taking to make it easier for travelers to visit the United States, because increasing tourism will help local economies and support businesses looking to expand and hire.  This plan to boost tourism is part of a series of actions the President has taken without Congress, because we can’t wait any longer to take the steps we need to help grow the economy and create jobs.  President Obama also said that in next week’s State of the Union Address, he will outline his blueprint for how our elected leaders and all Americans can work together to create an economy that is built to last.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
The White House
Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hello, everybody.  On Thursday, I went down to Florida to visit Disneyworld.  To Sasha and Malia’s great disappointment, I was not there to hang out with Mickey or ride Space Mountain.  Instead, I was there to talk about steps we’re taking to boost tourism and create jobs.

Tourism is the number one service we export.  Every year, tens of millions of tourists come from all over the world to visit America.  They stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, and see all the sights America has to offer.

That’s good for local businesses.  That’s good for local economies.  And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work.  It’s that simple.

We can’t wait to seize this opportunity.  As I’ve said before, I will continue to work with Congress, states, and leaders in the private sector to find ways to move this country forward.  But where they can’t act or won’t act, I will.  Because we want the world to know that America is open for business.  And that’s why I announced steps we’re taking to promote America and make it easier for tourists to come and visit.

Frequent travelers who pass an extensive background check will be able to scan their passports and fingerprints and skip long lines at immigration at more airports.   We’re going to expand the number of countries where visitors can get pre-cleared by Homeland Security so they don’t need a tourist visa.  And we’re going to speed up visa processing for countries with growing middle classes that can afford to visit America – countries like China and Brazil.

We want more visitors coming here.  We want them spending money here.  It’s good for our economy, and it will help provide the boost more businesses need to grow and hire.  And we can’t wait to make it happen.

Too often over the last few months, we’ve seen Congress drag its feet and refuse to take steps we know will help strengthen our economy.  That’s why this is the latest in a series of actions I’ve taken on my own to help our economy keep growing, creating jobs, and restoring security for middle-class families.

In September, we decided to stop waiting for Congress to fix No Child Left Behind and give states the flexibility they need to help our kids meet higher standards.  We made sure that small businesses that have contracts with the Federal Government can get paid faster so they can start hiring more people.  We made it easier for veterans to get jobs and put their skills to work.  We took steps to help families whose home values have fallen refinance their mortgages and save up to thousands of dollars a year.  We sped up the loan process for companies that want to rebuild our roads and bridges – putting construction workers back on the job.  And I appointed Richard Cordray to be America’s consumer watchdog and protect working Americans from the worst abuses of the financial industry.

These are good steps.  Now we need to do more.

On Tuesday evening, I’ll deliver my State of the Union Address, where I’ll lay out my blueprint for actions we need to take together – not just me, or Congress, but every American – to rebuild an economy where hard work and responsibility are rewarded.  An economy that’s built to last.

I hope you’ll tune in.  In the meantime, I’m going to keep doing everything I can to make this country not only the best place to visit and do business – but the best place to live and work and build a better life.

Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend.  And I’ll see you on Tuesday.

White House Recap January 14-20, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Plans Government Reform, Cabinet Reorganization & Creating Tourism Jobs

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: JANUARY 14-20, 2012

West Wing Week: 01/20/12 or “The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right”

Source: WH, 1-20-12

This week, the President called for government reform through reorganization and a new Cabinet position, honored Martin Luther King, Jr., welcomed the Tuskegee airmen, the King of Jordan, and the 2011 World Series Champs, and traveled to the Magic Kingdom to unveil the latest “We Can’t Wait” action.

Full Text January 19, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Promoting Creating Travel & Tourism Jobs at Disney World

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Promotes Tourism from Disney World

Source: WH, 1-19-12
President Obama talks tourism at Walt Disney World

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on a strategy that will significantly help boost tourism and travel during a statement at the Magic Kingdom Theme Park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, Jan. 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

In the United States, tourism is big business. In fact, it’s the number one service that we export. In 2010, we welcomed nearly 60 million international visitors to America, and they helped to boost our economy to the tune of $134 billion.

And President Obama thinks we should do even more to boost that trend, which is why he traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Speaking from Main Street USA, he announced:

[Today,] I directed my administration to send me a new national tourism strategy focused on creating jobs. And some of America’s most successful business leaders –- some who are here today –- have signed up to help. We’re going to see how we can make it easier for foreign tourists to find basic information about visiting America. And we’re 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.

The President said that his goal is to ensure that the United States is the top tourist destination in the world. He announced efforts to expand the Global Entry Program, which makes it easier for frequent visitors to the United States — who’ve undergone a background check — to travel in and out of our borders. He told the audience that he’d directed his administration to add additional nations to the list of those whose citizens are allowed to visit America without a tourist visa.

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:

[Today] I’m directing the State Department to accelerate our ability to process visas by 40 percent in China and in Brazil this year. We’re not talking about five years from now or 10 years from now — this year.

These are all things the President is doing right now — as part of the We Can’t Wait campaign.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President Unveiling a Strategy to Help Boost Travel and Tourism

Walt Disney World Resort
Orlando, Florida

12:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  I am glad to be at Disney World!  (Applause.)  The Magic Kingdom.  This is outstanding.

Well, let me begin by thanking Ruben for that extraordinary introduction.  And he was too bashful — maybe he’s not supposed to do this.  I will do it.  His restaurant is called Zaza [Yaya’s].  (Applause.)  New Cuban diners.  So everybody check it out.  And I told him, he was — on the way out, he was wondering, I don’t know, I don’t do this a lot.  He’s a natural.  (Laughter.)  We’re going to have to run him for something.  (Laughter.)

But thank you so much for taking the time.  It is great to be here.  It is rare that I get to do something that Sasha and Malia envy me for.  (Laughter.)  That doesn’t happen very often.  Maybe for once they’ll actually ask me at dinner how my day went.  (Laughter.)

And I confess, I am excited to see Mickey.  It’s always nice to meet a world leader who has bigger ears than me.  (Laughter.)

I want to acknowledge the presence of one of Florida’s outstanding mayors, the mayor of Orlando — Buddy Dyer is in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got two outstanding members of my Cabinet — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — (applause) — and Commerce Secretary John Bryson.  (Applause.)  Because they’re focused on what brings us here today, and that’s creating jobs and boosting tourism.

You just heard what a huge difference tourism makes for small businesses like Ruben’s.  Every year, tens of millions of tourists all over the world come to visit America.  Makes sense.  You got the greatest country on Earth — people want to come.  As folks in Orlando know, that’s good for our economy.  It means people are renting cars and they’re staying in hotels and they’re eating at restaurants and they’re checking out the sights.  It means people are doing business here in the United States.  In 2010, nearly 60 million international visitors helped the tourism industry generate over $134 billion.  Tourism is the number-one service that we export.  Number one.  And that means jobs.

More money spent by more tourists means more businesses can hire more workers.  This is a pretty simple formula.  And that’s why we’re all here today — to tell the world that America is open for business.  We want to welcome you, and to take concrete steps to boost America’s tourism industry so that we can keep growing our economy and creating more jobs here in Florida and all across the country.

Now, here’s the good news:  We’ve got the best product to sell.  I mean, look at where we are.  We’ve got the most entertaining destinations in the world.  This is the land of extraordinary natural wonders -– from the Rocky Mountains to the Grand Canyon; from Yellowstone to Yosemite.

This is the land where we do big things, and so have incredible landmarks, like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building; the Hoover Dam; the Gateway Arch.  This is the land of iconic cities and all their sights –- from Independence Hall in Philadelphia to Faneuil Hall in Boston; from the Space Needle in Seattle to the skyline of my hometown in Chicago.  It’s a nice skyline, for those of you who have never been there.  (Laughter.)  All right, a couple of Chicagoans back there.  (Laughter.)

But I’m here today because I want more tourists here tomorrow.  I want America to be the top tourist destination in the world.  (Applause.)  The top tourist destination in the world.  (Applause.)  And this is something that we’ve been focused on for some time.

Two years ago, I signed a bill into law called the Travel Promotion Act.  It had broad support of both Democrats and Republicans.  And as you know, that doesn’t always happen.  (Laughter.)  And it set up a new nonprofit organization called Brand USA.  Its job is to pitch America as a travel destination for the rest of the world to come to visit.

You guys see advertising for other countries, other destinations, here in the United States, right?  Well, we’ve got to do the same thing, so that when people are thinking about where they want to travel, where they want to spend their vacation, we want them to come here.  And so that’s already in place, but we’ve got to do more.

So today, I directed my administration to send me a new national tourism strategy focused on creating jobs.  And some of America’s most successful business leaders –- some who are here today –- have signed up to help.  We’re going to see how we can make it easier for foreign tourists to find basic information about visiting America.  And we’re 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.

Now, just as we do a better job of marketing our tourist destinations, we’ve also got to make it easier for tourists to make the visit.  There’s a good reason why it’s not easy for anybody to get a visa to come to America.  Obviously, our national security is a top priority.  We will always protect our borders and our shores and our tourist destinations from people who want to do us harm.  And unfortunately, such people exist, and that’s not going to change.

But we also want to get more international tourists coming to America.  And there’s no reason why we can’t do both.  We can make sure that we’re doing a good job keeping America secure while at the same time maintaining the openness that’s always been the hallmark of America and making sure that we’re welcoming travelers from all around the world.

So one step we’re taking is the expansion of something called the Global Entry Program.  It’s a program that protects our borders and makes life easier for frequent travelers to and from the United States.  Now, getting into the program requires an extensive background check.  But once you’re in, once you’ve proven yourself to be a solid individual who is coming here for business or recreation purposes, instead of going through long lines at immigration, we can scan your passport, your fingerprints, and you’re on your way.

So it’s a great example of how we’re using new technology to maintain national security and boost tourism at the same time.  And we’re now going to make it available to almost all international travelers coming to the United States.  If they’re willing to submit themselves to the background checks necessary, we can make sure that we’re facilitating their easy travel into the United States.  (Applause.)

There are some additional steps, though, that we can take.  Right now, there are 36 countries around the world whose citizens can visit America without getting a tourist visa.  After they go online they get pre-cleared by Homeland Security, and there’s only one thing they have to do and that’s book a flight.  And that’s been a great boost for tourism.  Over 60 percent of our visitors don’t require a visa, and in most cases that’s because of this program.

Today, I’m directing my administration to see if we can add more countries to it.  (Applause.)  We want more folks to have an easier time coming to the United States.

And let’s also realize that in the years ahead, more and more tourists are going to come from countries not currently in this program — countries with rapidly growing economies, huge populations, and emerging middle classes; countries like China and India, and especially important here in Florida, Brazil, a huge population that loves to come to Florida.  (Applause.)  But we make it too hard for them.  More and more of their people can now afford to visit America who couldn’t come before, and in fact, over the next four years, the tourists traveling from those countries we expect to more than double.

But we want them coming right here.  We want them spending money here, in Orlando, in Florida, in the United States of America, which will boost our businesses and our economy.

So today, I’m directing the State Department to accelerate our ability to process visas by 40 percent in China and in Brazil this year.  We’re not talking about five years from now or 10 years from now — this year.  (Applause.)

We’ve already made incredible progress in this area.  We’ve better staffed our embassies and our consulates.  We’ve streamlined services with better technology.  Waiting times for a visa are down.  But applications keep on going up — they are skyrocketing.  People want to come here.  And China and Brazil are the two countries which have some of the biggest backlogs.  And these are two of the countries with some of the fastest-growing middle classes that want to visit and have disposable income — money that they want to spend at our parks and our monuments and at businesses like Ruben’s.

So that’s what this is all about:  telling the world that America is open for business; making it as safe and as simple as possible to visit; helping our businesses all across the country grow and create jobs; helping those businesses compete and win.

Ultimately, that’s how we’re going to rebuild an economy where hard work pays off, where responsibility is rewarded, and where anybody can make it if they try.  That’s what America is all about.  That’s part of the reason why people want to come here, because they know our history.  They know what the American Dream has been all about.  And a place like Disneyland represents that quintessentially American spirit.  This image is something that’s recognized all around the world, and this weather — (laughter) — is something that people appreciate all around the world, including the northern parts of this country.  (Laughter.)

So we want everybody to come.  All who are watching, Disney World and Florida are open for business, but we want people all around the world to know the same.  And we are going to do everything we can to make sure that we’re continuing to boost tourism for decades to come.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.

END
12:53 P.M. EST

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