President Barack Obama announced on Thursday he wants to make the United States a leading travel destination and boost tourism, the Associated Press reported.
While at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, the president proclaimed “America is open for business.”
Obama issued an executive order to boost tourist visa processing in China and Brazil, along with taking additional steps to promote national parks and adding business executives to a tourism advisory board, the AP reported. Obama has also ordered the elimination of tourist visa for visitors from Taiwan, USA Today reported.
"The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. It's that simple," Obama said, the AP reported.
He pointed out that eco-tourism and outdoor recreation are already important in states such as Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, USA Today reported.
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Due to terrorism and illegal immigration, visitor numbers have fallen since the 9/11 attacks. In 2001 the US issued 7.6 million visas, whereas in 2010 they issued 6.5.
"We need to help businesses all across the country grow and create jobs; compete and win," Obama said, USA Today reported. "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."
Florida Gov. Rick Scott welcomes Obama’s announcement, after he brought up the issues with visas while on a trade mission to Brazil last year, the Palm Beach Post reported.
“This is an issue that the governor’s been very interested in for awhile and it’s nice to see Barack Obama come on board,” said the governor’s spokesman Lane Wright, the Palm Beach Post reported.
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Florida also remains a critical swing state for Obama in his 2012 reelection campaign and some Republicans criticized him for making his announcement from there.
“It’s a campaign trip to a very important battleground state of Florida where the president is doing very poorly,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, the Palm Beach Post reported. “I’m not saying that every single thing here is a bad idea. He can do a tourism press conference from the White House…This president uses every possible opportunity to campaign in battleground states.”