The White House is sending President Obama to a familiar place: the land of make-believe. He’ll be at Disney World on Thursday to push for relaxing tourist visa requirements in the name of boosting the economy.
From the Orlando Sentinel via William Amos:
President Barack Obama will visit Walt Disney World during a planned trip to Orlando on Thursday, according to a White House aide. There, he will “unveil a strategy that will significantly help boost tourism and travel,” the aide added.
Details on that strategy were not disclosed. But it would be hard for Obama to pick a locale that’s better known than Disney for a tourism announcement. The resort giant in Orlando has four theme parks that collectively draw more than 45 million visitors a year.
It doesn’t appear, however, that he’ll get much love from local politicians. Aides to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said the Florida Democrat was unlikely to attend because the office “got word too late” of the visit and had meetings planned in other parts of the state. And Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is scheduled to be in Washington that day for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
While the details of the announcement are still unknown, there’s one topic at the top of the political wish list for Central Florida’s tourism industry: Visa reform. The tourism industry has been pushing Congress and Obama to make it easier for visitors from emerging nations such as Brazil, India and China to come to the U.S. as tourists.
In Brazil, where citizens have a reputation for loving Orlando’s theme parks, there are four consulate offices to conduct the required in-person interviews for people who want a visa to visit the U.S. That means families could have to travel several hundred miles before they are even approved to travel to the U.S.
In case anyone needs reminding, it was the relentless drive of the tourism industry and kowtowing State Department bureaucrats that led to the Bush-era Visa Express program — which relaxed visa policies, eliminated in-person consulate interviews, and opened the door to the 9/11 hijackers.
Brazil, may I remind you, is just the latest base for al Qaeda and other Islamic jihadi groups; it “does not recognize Hizbollah or Hamas as terrorist groups and disbanded the Federal Police’s anti-terrorism service in 2009.”
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