Last year alone, travel and tourism were responsible for $1.5 trillion in economic activity across the country. Think about that -- $1.5 trillion supporting nearly 8 million jobs in communities like this one. And when tourists come from other countries and spend money here, that’s actually considered a type of export. We don’t always think about it that way, but we should. Nothing says “Made in America” better than the Empire State Building or the Hoover Dam. Folks who work at restaurants and hotels that serve fans in Cooperstown have the kinds of jobs that can’t be offshored. And obviously it’s tough to ship the Rocky Mountains or the Grand Canyon overseas. You can’t do it.
When it comes to tourism, the good news is we’ve got a great product to sell. People want to come here. I was reminded of that yesterday. I took a walk from the White House to the Department of the Interior building. Keep in mind, I don’t get a chance to take walks very often. (Laughter.) Secret Service gets a little stressed. But every once in a while I’m able to sneak off. I’m sort of like the circus bear that kind of breaks the chain, and I start taking off, and everybody starts whispering, the bear is loose! (Laughter.)
So I got out, take a walk -- it was a beautiful day. And even though I went for several blocks -- it was probably about a 10-minute walk -- in that little span of time, I met tourists from Germany, and Israel, and Brazil, and China, and Ukraine on the National Mall. The fact that people come from all over the world to see our parks, to see our monuments, is something we should take great pride in as Americans. And it’s good for our economy.