Thursday, May 22, 2014

Exporting our national experience

By Carl

This is going to be an interesting and intriguing visit to Cooperstown by President Obama today:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Promoting travel to the U.S. as a job creator, President Barack Obama is planning new steps to make it easier for people from other countries to visit the 50 states and spend money at their hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and other businesses.

Obama planned to discuss the economic benefits of tourism to the U.S. and the latest steps he is taking to boost it at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, on Thursday.

Obama acted two years ago to speed the processing of tourist visas for visitors from China and Brazil, steps that have dramatically reduced the length of time people from those populous countries have to wait for approval to travel to the U.S., said administration officials who previewed the president's trip for reporters.

On Thursday he will tackle the flip side of the problem: long waits for processing at U.S. airports and other ports of entry once tourists arrive.

It's an interesting location, not that the topic itself is that interesting. Not only is the president pushing for more tourists to visit the U.S., but it seems he wants them to include places not normally high on tourists' lists of places to visit.

Think about it: apart from the United States, and perhaps the Caribbean and Australia, where else would the baseball Hall of Fame attract tourists from? (ed. note: um, Canada? -- MJWS)

The actual attraction aside, it's important for the economies of places like Cooperstown, or Canton, OH, or Springfield, MA, or our national parks, and other out of the way places around the country to get some of that foreign gelt. Small town America is hurting, to be sure, unless there's a fortunate happenstance of a natural gas field waiting to be fracked or other resource to be exploited.

And really, is that what we want our ultimate legacy as a nation to be? We raped and pillaged our beautiful countryside to provide wealth to our citizens? It's one thing to profit from our bounty, it's another thing to make that the only way we can profit.

I think it's important to the nation and to the world that places like Cooperstown engage with foreign visitors. It’s far too easy for citizens in remote areas to fear the strange, the difficult to grasp. The opportunities for our country to come together domestically can be greatly enhanced if we all have the common experience of meeting other people, people who don't necessary share our views on things, and who can educate us (and we educate them in turn).

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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