Disney Wins One For U.S. Tourism

Disney Co. lobbyists have been instrumental in wresting new legislation out of Washington that will (of course) benefit Disney but that will also prove a boon to other Orlando attractions and a shot in the arm for U.S. tourism in general.

Under the new law, more countries could qualify to send tourists to the United States without visas for up to 90 days. Only 27 nations can do that now, but tourism officials hope others will be added if required security improvements are made.

The immediate beneficiaries will be South Americans. Ole!

Disney deserves a lot of credit on this.

The [Orlando CVB] recently released figures that about 300,000 South Americans came to Orlando annually from 2003 to 2005. Western Europe, whose travelers often don’t need visas, sent about 1.4 million visitors to Orlando in 2006.

That has pushed Disney and the $700 billion U.S. tourism industry to find ways to attract new tourists globally. To promote that goal in Washington, Disney last year joined top travel companies in a coalition called the Discover America Partnership.

The group was central in promoting the visa change, at one point hiring as a consultant Tom Ridge, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The partnership now wants Congress to help promote U.S. travel in overseas markets.

“Disney has been very active in contributing to this process,” said Geoff Freeman, executive director of the Discover America Partnership.

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