What CEOs are Saying: The Business Community’s Take on President Obama's National Travel and Tourism Strategy

President Barack Obama feigns throwing a ball during a tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., May 22, 2014.

President Barack Obama feigns throwing a ball during a tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., May 22, 2014. The ball was originally thrown by President Taft, the first President to throw a first pitch. Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson is at left and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson is at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Two years ago, President Obama set an ambitious goal: that the United States would annually attract 100 million international visitors by 2021. Yesterday, from Cooperstown, New York, he announced that we are right on track.

More than 70 million travelers from around the world visited the United States in the last year alone, up from 55 million just five years ago -- and they spent more than $180 billion.  This growth in international visitors has also created approximately 175,000 American jobs over those five years.

Using his pen, the President will sign a Presidential Memorandum calling for reductions in wait times for travelers at our 15 largest airports and take additional executive actions to encourage more international travelers to come to the United States, making it easier for foreign tourists to see more and spend more in the United States.

That's a big deal, and will have a huge impact on our economy -- and CEOs and business leaders from around the country agree.  Take a look at what they're saying, coming out of yesterday's announcement -- and help spread the word.

“We are particularly pleased about the firm commitment by the Administration to cut down the growing delays for airline passengers entering the country. We have been asked to participate in the public-private initiative announced today to explore all means of expediting processing of travelers at our gateways and will enthusiastically do so.”

--Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines

“Tourism is a tremendous source of US jobs and economic growth. Worldwide, travelers last year made over one billion international trips, and that number is projected to double over the next 20 years. If the US can host its fair share of those visitors, millions of jobs will be created right here in the US – jobs that cannot be sent offshore. The President’s action today will help the United States better compete globally for those future travelers.”

--Christopher J. Nassetta, President and CEO of Hilton Worldwide

"Delta applauds President Obama's efforts to increase travel and tourism to the United States. Expanding this important sector of the economy means more job growth and economic opportunities across our nation. In particular, we welcome the president's efforts, and the efforts of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, to expedite and streamline the entry process for travelers coming into the U.S. Improving and speeding up the entry process for our customers has been a top priority for Delta. Many of these customers are visitors from overseas who will be spending money in the U.S. on business or leisure pursuits during their visit, further bolstering our economy."

--Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Airlines

"The U.S. took a big step today in recognizing that it’s time we bring travel into the 21st century. President Obama pledged to direct the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security to streamline the entry process for foreign visitors. His announcement came a few hours after he gathered with CEOs from the travel industry, including me, and talked with us about how best to harness our industry’s potential for creating economic growth and jobs in the U.S."

--Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International

“To achieve our goal of attracting 100 million international visitors by 2021, we need well-trained employees who can find ladders of opportunity within our growing hospitality and travel industry. …As Marilyn Carlson Nelson has long said, ‘the greatest form of philanthropy is a good job’ -- and hospitality is an industry where you can quickly work your way up into a well-paying position in professional management. Jobs in our industry can pull people up and out of poverty and provide opportunities to grow the middle class.”

--Trudy Rautio, President and CEO of Carlson (a global hospitality and travel company)

Jeff Zients is Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. Valerie Jarrett is a Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement.