President Obama Outlines New Travel and Tourism Strategy

During a speech at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida today, President Obama outlined a new strategy to promote tourism to the United States.

As part of the new strategy, the President has charged the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior with creating an interagency task force to develop recommendations for a national travel and tourism strategy, focusing on promoting visits to iconic American destinations such as national parks and wildlife refuges. The task force will work with the Corporation for Travel Promotion, which recently launched the Brand USA campaign to promote U.S. tourism.

The Departments of State and Homeland Security will be charged with increasing non-immigrant visa processing capacity from emerging markets China and Brazil by 40 percent in 2012, ensuring that 80 percent of non-immigrant visa applicants are interviewed within three weeks of receipt and increasing efforts to expand the Visa Waiver Program. The Departments of State and Homeland Security have also announced a pilot program to speed up the application process, including the ability to waive interviews for some very low-risk applicants. Finally, the President will expand and make permanent the Global Entry program, which provides expedited clearance for pre-approved low-risk travelers to the U.S and nominate Taiwan for the Visa Waiver Program.

A flurry of travel industry players released statements praising the new initiatives, including the U.S. Travel Association, the National Retail Federation and American Airlines. The U.S. Travel Association, as well as other industry organizations, had been advocating visa reform on the ground that it would boost the economy and create jobs.

Read the full details of the plan here.

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