With a quintessential icon of American tourism, Disney World’s Cinderella castle, rising prominently behind him, President Obama declared today that his goal was to make America the “top tourist destination in the world.”
But in terms of tourism dollars spent, the United States is already No. 1.
According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourists spent more than $103 billion in the U.S. in 2010, nearly double the next highest-grossing country, Spain.
When it comes to the sheer number of visitors, though, America falls to second place, with France attracting about 17 million more tourists in 2010 than the U.S.
It is this number, a White House official told ABC’s Jake Tapper, that the president aims to improve by making it easier and faster for people from developing countries like China, India and Brazil to get tourist visas.
“This effort is about making sure that we are taking the right steps to position America to capitalize on the changing dynamics in international travel and tourism, where there is increased competition from other countries to attract travelers from emerging economies with growing middle classes,” the official said.