- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2014

President Obama on Thursday directed members of his Cabinet to review airport procedures and give foreigners a smoother entry into the country.

In a presidential memorandum, Mr. Obama ordered Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to develop a comprehensive plan within 120 days. That plan is to focus on “a national goal for improving the experience of international arriving passengers, including expediting the arrival and entry process for international visitors to the United States,” Mr. Obama said.

The president also is enlisting the help of the private sector to create a “positive first impression” of the U.S. for visitors from around the world.

“The experience of an international arrival at one of our airports it not limited to the interaction with the U.S. governments. Airports, airlines, and local governments figure heavily into the arrival’s experience — and they have an essential role to play in creating a positive first impression,” Mr. Obama said.

“There, as part of the action plans, the secretaries will identify opportunities for private and nonfederal public sector actors to help achieve the goal, and ask for their public commitment to take specific actions to improve the entry experience for international guests,” he said.

The effort is part of the White House’s focus on the economic benefits of tourism. Later on Thursday, the president will speak at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., where he’ll discuss how tourism aids the American economy.