Sunday, January 22, 2012

The "First Tourists" 

Could somebody please explain to me why the White House communications office thought that this was a smart "blog post"? Sheesh, talk about doing the work of the opposition.

As for the president's "ambitious plan to make this country the #1 tourist destination in the world," I have a couple of thoughts.

First, the "details" were not disclosed. Uh, so how are we to know it is "ambitious"? Anyway, there are two things that would improve the United States as a tourist destination: Debasing the currency even further, and loosening visa requirements for tourists. He's already doing the first through his fiscal policy, so I suppose now he can claim it is in service of an "ambitious" plan. As for the second, he is ordering the State Department to process visas faster in China, India, and Brazil, all in the spirit of creating jobs here. The question, of course, is why he waited until the election year to do it?

Never mind that our great economy is in such a state that a central feature of our president's "we can't wait" jobs program is to recruit tourists from poor countries.

Second, the United States is already the second most visited country in the world, behind only France. We'd have to increase tourism by almost a third to catch France, though. Tall order, given that in Germany and Britain, both of which (obviously) border France, there are more than 140 million affluent people who can and do pop over for a few days of good eating. Barring an epidemic transmitted through unpasteurized cheese and fois gras, there is essentially no chance that Barack Obama can achieve his stated objective. I could locate no press account that made this rather obvious point, probably because it would have involved a 30-second trip through the googles, which is more than most reporters are inclined to do.

I STAND CORRECTED: The mainsteam media was not as completely lame as my original search suggested. ABC News did some work, and observed that in terms of money spent by foreign tourists the United States was already #1. So much for ambition.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jan 22, 08:27:00 PM:

Seems to me that he doesn't practice what he preaches.

Obama has taken more vacations -- both official vacations and taxpayer-paid "official visits" -- to more countries -- spending more taxpayer (and borrowed) money -- in a mere 3 years than any other President has done in his entire tenure. This while the country is broke, and while we're in a recession he has prolonged. GWB had the sense and decency after 9/11 that it would be inappropriate, stopped playing golf, and stopped taking vacations to anywhere other than his own ranch.

We need regime change.

But that's what you get when you elect an Emperor.  

By Anonymous The Epicure, at Sun Jan 22, 08:44:00 PM:

Would be interesting to see the stats not by number of arrivals/departures, nor even by the number of days, but on total spending by foreign tourists.

Proximity cuts two ways. Given the relative size of countries, the stats for France count the Brit, Belgian, Spaniard or German who takes a day-trip into France, but doesn't count the New Jerseyite who takes a day trip into New York. My guess is that the average duration of an international visit to France is shorter than the average trip to the US. Just a guess. We do have lots of day trips from Canada and Mexico, but not sure if they're the same proportion. And if you take a country like Australia or South Africa, you'd probably have far longer visits, on average.

Further would be interesting to see the average $ expenditure per visit, or per day, of visitors. France isn't cheap, of course.

There's no doubt though that, per capita, tourism is a far bigger deal for France than it is for the US. Because frankly, other than the gourmet products you cite, France has no other economy of note. While the US still has a number of productive sectors. But Obama's working to change that.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jan 23, 07:56:00 AM:

Just a sop to SEIU employees in the hotels and amusement parks.  

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