On the agenda
The travel industry owes another tip of the hat to President Obama and his administration for paying attention to tourism.
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Over the course of four or eight years, most recent presidents have managed to say at least one nice thing about every sector of the economy, from agriculture to zoos. But even after allowing for political opportunism, this president, more than most, has found a place for tourism in his economic program, particularly the power of inbound tourism (a service export).
Two years ago, the administration adopted a National Travel and Tourism Strategy, setting a target of attracting 100 million visitors by 2021.
Building on that effort, the president recently ordered the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies to develop national goals for expediting and improving the entry and inspection process for arriving visitors.
Announcing the initiative at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., Obama noted that wait times have been cut to 15 minutes at O'Hare and DFW, and said there's no reason we can't replicate that kind of improvement at other airports, a goal to which he committed his administration.
The event was in the news for a brief period, but, given our 24/7 news cycle, few observers had the time to pause and think much about it.
Those who do will quickly realize that customs delays at our gateway airports is a topic that rarely commands presidential attention. This is an initiative that could have been announced by a Cabinet secretary or even the White House staff -- and in previous administrations it might well have been. The president and his team deserve considerable credit for putting this item on his crowded agenda.
Not for nothing did Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, say in response that "we thank and congratulate the president for articulating this vision."
We second the motion.