Secretary Udall, Senator Randolph, Congressman Gray, Members of the Congress, interested citizens, ladies and gentlemen:
Each year more than 10 million people visit this Nation's Capital and some 2 million come here to the White House.
They arrive in a strange city. They have to make their way through very unfamiliar streets. If they can find a lot to park their car in, they then must cope with the public transportation system that has confused many a world traveler.
There is no central clearinghouse where a visitor can gather information about our many monuments, museums, and Government buildings. He must needlessly waste hours deciding what to see and determining when he can see it.
The tourist and the student are invited to Washington. Then they are told to go and fend for themselves.
It is as if we asked someone to come to our house to visit with us and then we told him to find the kitchen and fix his own dinner.
The bill that I am signing here will assure that in the future our visitors to Washington will at least be given a proper welcome.
Under the National Visitor Center Facilities Act of 1968:
--A visitor center will be created in what is now known as Union Station. A new railway passenger terminal will be built nearby.
--A parking lot to hold 4,000 cars will be built adjacent to the Union Station.
--Low-cost public transportation will be available to take our visitors from the center to points along the Mall and the Capitol grounds.
--There will be a Capitol Visitor Center, right in the Capitol Building, where you can find out where to go, what time events take place, the points of history about the building and about our Congress. You will also be able to get books and pictures about the Capitol.
--An advisory commission, chaired by the distinguished Secretary of the Interior, will conduct a continuing review of the visitor's problems and the visitor's needs, so that we can keep our facilities up to date.
We are making a very special effort this year to try to attract foreign visitors to our country.
We hope that the visa requirements for foreign tourists can be cased. Hospitality cards will be issued which will entitle foreigners to very special discounts at hotels and Government-operated facilities. I hope many restaurants and other firms will join in this program.
Naturally, many of these foreign visitors are going to come here to our Capital-come to Washington.
And I think it is all the more important now, when all Americans will be opening their hearts and their homes to visitors from other lands, that the Nation's Capital should provide a very special welcome.
For Americans and foreigners alike, we want Washington to symbolize the best of our country--a city of beauty and warmth and hospitality.
For the fact that the Congress has brought me this legislation and for their presence here this morning, I express my appreciation.