Obama talks tourism at Disney World

President delivers speech at Magic Kingdom

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Saying he wants to boost tourism in Orlando, Florida and the United States, President Barack Obama visited Walt Disney World on Thursday to unveil his plan to bring more tourists to the country and create jobs.

VIEW VIDEO: Obama's full speech

VIEW PHOTOS: Obama visits Disney World

Obama's speech highlighted the difficulties people in China, Brazil and elsewhere have when trying to travel to the U.S. 

In the first presidential visit to the Magic Kingdom since 1978, Obama kicked off his speech with humorous remarks about the similarities of the size of Mickey Mouse's ears compared to own while saying his daughters are envious of his trip.

Jokes aside, Obama said he's serious about boosting tourism economy by signing a series of executive orders to help travelers from fast-growing economies get to the U.S.

Obama said nearly 60 million international visitors came to the U.S. in 2010, bringing $134 billion to the economy.

"As folks in Orlando know, that's good for our economy," Obama said. "It means people are doing business in the U.S."

Obama said it's necessary to make it easier for visitors to come to the U.S. by speeding up the passport process. The plan would also find ways for information on the U.S. to reach foreign countries.

"Tourism is the No. 1 service we export -- and that means jobs," Obama said.

Obama's plan included expanding the global entry program, where frequent travelers would enroll and have to go through an extensive background check. Then, they wouldn't have to apply for travel visas every time they head to the U.S.  Instead, travelers would get their passports and fingerprints scanned with new technology, avoiding waits in long immigration lines.

Obama said the plan would be offered to nearly all travelers, if they're willing to submit background check.

"Obviously, national security is our top priority," Obama said.  "I'm here today because I want more tourists here tomorrow.  I want America to be the top tourist destinations in the world."

Obama specifically touched on Florida multiple times throughout his speech, noting that Disney captures the "quintessential American spirit."

"We want people visiting Orlando, and Florida and the USA, which will boost business and economy," Obama said.  "This image is what's recognized around the world. Disney World Florida is open for business.  We are going to do everything we can to boost tourism for decades to come."

Obama also said that he wanted to draw attention to some of Florida's natural offerings, like the Everglades.

"We've got the best product to sell," Obama said. "We've got the most entertaining destinations in the world."

Over the next four years, tourists traveling from China and India are expected to double, meaning more jobs will be needed, Obama said. The White House says that more than 1 million U.S. jobs could be created over the next decade, according to industry projections, if the U.S. increases its share of the international travel market.

"China and Brazil are the two countries that have the biggest backlogs," Obama said.   

Obama arrived in Central Florida when Air Force One touched down at Orlando International Airport at 11:36 a.m. Thursday. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer accompanied Obama on the trip from Washington.

Obama acknowledged Dyer and two important Cabinet members, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Commerce Secretary John Bryson, who he said have been the main proponents of the advisory board.

Obama was introduced by local Ruben Perez, owner of YaYa Café at OIA and several other businesses, with Cinderella's castle in the background.

Magic Kingdom shut down part of the park for Obama's speech, but Disney made it look like it was for a normal event. Visitors were rerouted around Main Street USA leading up to the castle.

Secret Service was at the park, and security was tight as park guests tried to get glimpses of Obama for the roughly two hours he was there.

Copyright 2012 by ClickOrlando.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.