WASHINGTON May 22 President Barack Obama will
make a pitch for U.S. tourism at a visit to the Baseball Hall of
Fame on Thursday as part of his efforts to provide a boost for
U.S. economic growth.
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
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
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
(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)