Obama Ushers in the Dragon
In a short message from the White House issued yesterday, US President Barack Obama wished his constituents a happy lunar new year. President Obama used this occasion to emphasize the importance of cultural diversity in the USA. From a transcript of the greeting posted on Whitehouse.gov:
[…]Growing up in Hawaii, I remember all the excitement surrounding the Lunar New Year – from the parades and the fireworks to the smaller gatherings with family and friends. It has always been a time for celebration and hope. And this year, as Americans here at home and around the world welcome the Year of the Dragon, it’s important to remember that our country is stronger because of our diversity. We are richer because of the different cultures that make up this country.
Not long after Mr. Obama welcomed in the Year of the Dragon, he announced a change in US visa policy soon to welcome in more Chinese tourists. China Daily reports:
The United States is expected to simplify and quicken the process of visa applications for Chinese travelers, US President Barack Obama announced on Thursday as part of an initiative to boost tourism.
[…]The number of travelers from China is projected to grow by 135 percent by 2016 compared to 2010. Chinese tourists on average spend more than $6,000 per trip, according to the US Department of Commerce.
[…]He [Charles Bennett at the US embassy in Beijing] said that nearly 90 percent of the Chinese applicants will be issued a visa in 2012, a figure that has seen steady growth in the past decade.