Obama at Disney World: ‘America is open for business’by George Bennett | January 19th, 2012
LAKE BUENA VISTA — With a symbol of Florida’s tourism industry as his backdrop, President Obama today declared that “America is open for business” for foreign tourists who want to spend money here but are hindered by delays and red tape.
Obama announced that his administration is taking steps to increase international tourism, including processing more visas from China and Brazil. He made the announcement on Main Street USA in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom with the iconic Cinderella Castle in the background. The area was shut down to regular park patrons and open only to invited guests during Obama’s remarks.
“More money spent by more tourists means more businesses can hire more workers. It’s a pretty simple formula. And that’s why we’re all here today — to tell the world that America is open for business,” said Obama, who spoke for about 15 minutes.
“We will always protect our borders and our shores and our tourist destinations from people who want to do us harm,” the president pledged. “We can make sure that we’re doing a good job keeping America secure while at the same maintaining the openness that has always been the hallmark of America and make sure that we’re welcoming travelers from all around the world.”
Gov. Rick Scott discussed the visa issues while on a trade mission to Brazil last year and welcomes the president’s announcement, Scott spokesman Lane Wright said.
“This is an issue that the governor’s been very interested in for awhile and it’s nice to see Barack Obama come on board,” said Wright, who said Brazilian tourists spent $1 billion in Florida in 2010 and “any break in the visa logjam would mean a flood of more tourism dollars to the Sunshine State.”
Obama’s decision to make the announcement in Florida — a critical swing state — was blasted by Republicans earlier today.
“It’s a campaign trip to a very important battleground state of Florida where the president is doing very poorly,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in a conference call with reporters before Obama arrived. But Priebus said he wasn’t necessarily taking issue with the policy initiatives Obama was announcing.
“I’m not saying that every single thing here is a bad idea,” Priebus said. “He can do a tourism press conference from the White House…This president uses every possible opportunity to campaign in battleground states.”