From Chicago Tribune: WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, set to unveil a new policy for boosting U.S. tourism, has chosen a fairy-tale setting for the Thursday announcement: Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, with its iconic Cinderella Castle as a backdrop.
And if some Disney magic rubs off on his re-election bid, too, then so be it.
The event, details of which were made public Tuesday, is the first of what is sure to be many election-year visits by the president to Florida. Obama carried the nation's largest swing state in 2008, but he faces a heavier lift this year in a state where the unemployment rate remains above the national average.
While specifics of his tourism plan were hazy, there is one topic at the top of the political wish list for Central Florida tourism: visa reform. The tourism industry has been pushing Congress and Obama to make travel to the U.S. easier for visitors from emerging nations such as Brazil, India and China.
"We understand that he [Obama] is going to trumpet the value of travel generally and improve facilitation for international travel, especially from China and Brazil," said Blain Rethmeier, senior vice president of public affairs at the U.S. Travel Association.
Brazil, whose citizens have a reputation for loving Orlando's theme parks, has only four U.S. consular offices for conducting the in-person interviews required of anyone who wants a visa to visit this country. That means some families have to travel several hundred miles for interviews before they can even get permission to travel to the U.S.
A recent congressional appropriations bill gave the U.S. secretary of state authority to develop a pilot program using videoconference technology to conduct visa interviews for leisure and business travelers. Such video conferences would be high on Disney's priority list, as they would likely cut the overall expense of coming to Orlando to see the Mouse.
A congressional aide, not authorized to speak on the record, said Capitol Hill expects the White House to make permanent a program called Global Entry, which cuts down clearance times at U.S. Customs checkpoints for "pre-approved, low-risk travelers" arriving in this country.
There also is the expectation that Obama will tout new hires for consular offices in Brazil and China — a move announced last year by the State Departmentthat could boost by 1 million the number of visas processed annually in each country.
Air Force One is expected to land at Orlando International Airport late-morning Thursday, with the president's motorcade taking him directly to Disney World. He is to leave Central Florida less than three hours later.
The tourism-policy changes are the latest effort by the Obama administration to get around legislative gridlock in Congress through executive actions.
Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't this idiot and his wife just get back from a 14 day vacation in Hawaii?? And used tax dollars to pay for it? So, now we are expected to fork out more money for Air Force One to be used, again, as his personal taxi? What the hell! This is unreal.
This nation is in a serious economic melt-down. We have our armed forces spread out thin, if I might add, in areas that could cost them their lives. Our borders are unsecured, gas prices have gone up, the cost of food has gone up, and many, many Americans are out of work, and he wants to promote tourism. Yeah, he has his priorities straight, imbecile!
I can you tell right now not many of us, myself included, can afford to go Disney World, let alone all the trips the Obama's have had since they took over the White House. The Obama's have used this prestigious and coveted position to spend American tax dollars and live like Hollywood movie stars. He is irresponsible and arrogant.
This is a blatant disregard for all the people struggling to get food on their tables and gas in their vehicles.