Obama to pitch U.S. tourism at Baseball Hall of Fame

Thu May 22, 2014 12:59pm EDT
 
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By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will make a pitch for U.S. tourism at a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday as part of his efforts to provide a boost for U.S. economic growth.

After meeting with the executives of tourism-related companies in Washington, the president was scheduled to travel to the institution in Cooperstown, New York, which celebrates baseball greats like Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and Mickey Mantle and men with nicknames such as "Old Hoss," "Dizzy," and "Country."

The museum, which drew just over 250,000 visitors in 2013, was picked for the event because it draws tourists from around the world, officials said.

The president is aiming to draw attention to efforts to boost growth by making it easier for foreign visitors to spend money in the United States.

But he may have a hard time diverting attention from a flaring controversy over alleged neglect of veterans' healthcare that could cost Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki his job. Obama has dispatched one of his inner circle, Rob Nabors, to investigate charges that long wait times for veterans seeking medical treatment could have led to some deaths.

The government has done a good job marketing the United States to travelers and cutting wait times for visas for tourists from China, tourism CEOs told reporters after meeting with Obama.

But the government needs to do more to make the experience of landing in the country and going through customs and immigration more pleasant, they said.

"We've done research on arriving travelers, and about 40 percent say that they will tell folks in their own country, based on their arrival experience, not to come," said Arne Sorenson, chief executive of Marriott International.   Continued...

 
U.S. President Barack Obama poses with Little League baseball players and their coach at Friendship Park in Washington May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas