President Obama Visits Orlando to announce new international programs

President Barack Obama visited Orlando January 19 to announce steps to facilitate and increase international travel to the United States. Speaking at the Magic Kingdom in the Walt Disney World Resort, Obama explained the steps the Administration is taking to expand the Global Entry program, as well as the process to speed up the non-immigrant visa process for certain applicants.

President Obama visits Orlando

His announcement is welcome news for the travel and tourism industry, and especially for the Orlando destination. The expansion of the Visa Waiver program and the acceleration of visa applications for countries like China and Brazil will have a positive impact on the State of Florida and Orlando. Brazil has become Orlando's third largest market for travelers, and China is an emerging customer base for us as well.

Additionally, this expansion and acceleration of the Visa Waiver process will boost business travel for meetings and conventions. Several conventions that meet in Orlando already receive up to 40 percent of their attendance from international markets. Among the key highlights from the initiatives Obama announced in Orlando:

  • The Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior will be charged with co-leading an interagency task force to develop recommendations for a National Travel & Tourism Strategy to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States, thereby expanding job creation. 
  • The Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security will be charged with increasing non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent in 2012. These departments will also be responsible for ensuring that 80 percent of non-immigrant visa applicants are interviewed within three weeks of receipt of application, and for increasing efforts to expand the Visa Waiver Program.
  • Departments of State and Homeland Security announced a pilot program to simplify and speed up the non-immigrant visa process for certain applicants, including the ability to waive interviews for some very low-risk applicants, such as individuals from any country renewing non-immigrant visas, or, in Brazil, younger or older first-time applicants.
  • Through a final rule, the Administration will expand and make the Global Entry program permanent. Global Entry is a program within the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection that was created as a pilot in 2008 to facilitate expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.

 

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