After meeting with the executives of tourism-related companies in
Washington, the president is scheduled to travel to the Cooperstown,
New York, institution, which celebrates Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson,
Mickey Mantle and other baseball greats and men with nicknames such
as "Old Hoss," "Dizzy," and "Country."
The museum, which drew just over 250,000 visitors in 2013, was
picked for the event because it draws tourists from around the
world, officials said.
The president is aiming to draw attention to efforts to boost growth
by making it easier for foreign visitors to spend money in the
United States. To that end, he is announcing measures to reduce the
time it takes to get out of major airports and highlighting progress
made in streamlining visa applications, particularly from emerging
economies such as Brazil and China.
But he may have a hard time diverting attention from a flaring
controversy over alleged neglect of veterans' healthcare that could
cost Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki his job. Obama has
dispatched one of his inner circle, Rob Nabors, to investigate
charges that long wait times for veterans seeking medical treatment
could have led to some deaths.
Obama is due to sign a presidential memorandum directing the
Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security to reduce wait times
for international travelers when they arrive at the 15 largest
airports in the country, administration officials said. Dallas-Ft.
Worth and Chicago O'Hare airports have been able to cut average wait
times by 40 percent to an average of 15 minutes through automated
passport kiosks and better signage, officials said.
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Each international visitor spends on average $4,500 per visit, and
the number of visitors has grown to 70 million in 2013 from 55
million in 2009, the White House said. Those visitors spent $180.7
billion, and the travel and tourism industry overall supported 8
million jobs, the administration said.
(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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