The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Obama announces programs to increase travel, tourism

In an act that could have implications for the rural economy, President Barack Obama today signed an executive order and announced new initiatives to increase travel and tourism in the United States.

Although a major focus of the initiative will be to ease visa processes for Chinese and Brazilian tourists, a White House news release also said Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar would create a task force whose tasks would include "increasing tourism and recreation jobs by promoting visits to our national treasures.”

The White House announcement noted that the Interior Department manages “iconic destinations in our national parks, wildlife refuges, cultural and historic sites, monuments and other public lands that attract travelers from around the country and the globe.”

“In 2010, more than 400 million visits were made by American and international travelers to these lands, contributing nearly $50 billion in economic activity and 400,000 jobs,” the announcement said. “Eco-tourism and outdoor recreation also have an outsize impact on rural economies, particularly in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.”