Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Designating Ambassador Robert M. McKinney To Head the President's Foreign Visitor Program

March 06, 1968

I have asked Ambassador Robert M. McKinney to coordinate the efforts of private industry and Government necessary to implement the recommendations of the commission on travel. He will be in charge of the President's foreign visitor program.

I have asked Ambassador McKinney to report to me on the results of his efforts by May 31, 1968. I have also asked him to consider and recommend long term measures which will ensure for the future the continued and increased forward momentum of the program.

The commission's recommendations aim to improve our international travel account by positive expansionary measures. They are designed to make the United States the world's preeminent tourist bargain.

Several steps have already been taken by the travel industry and the Government:
--On February 23, 1968, I asked the Congress to liberalize our visa regulations making it easier for bona fide foreign tourists to visit the United States.
--Members of the American travel and hotel industry are offering attractive discounts to foreign tourists, and they are significantly increasing their promotional activities abroad.
--The Civil Aeronautics Board has sanctioned proposals to grant discounts to foreign tourists on domestic airlines; similar proposals are pending before other U.S. regulatory agencies.
--The members of the International Air Transport Association are considering a proposal to reduce fares for tourists flying to the United States.

I have asked Ambassador McKinney to work closely with the interested agencies of Government and the appropriate congressional committees to speed passage of the visa bill and to coordinate early implementation of other measures designed to facilitate the entry of foreign tourists.

We will shortly be issuing the first tourist hospitality card. These cards will identify the foreign tourists as eligible for discounts from participating firms and government operated facilities. I urge American travel, hotel, motel, restaurant, and other tourist related firms which have not yet joined in this program, to consider its advantages to them and to their country.

I have asked Ambassador McKinney to keep in close touch with industry to ensure that all interested American businessmen are aware of the discount program and its benefits, to answer their questions regarding the program, and to consider their suggestions for its improvement.

Many State and local governments are already actively encouraging foreign travel. We had an opportunity to discuss these efforts with the Governors only last week. Ambassador McKinney will work with Governor Price Daniel, Director of the Office of Emergency Planning, in asking State and local governments to intensify their efforts to attract foreign travelers.

All departments and agencies of the Federal Government are expected to cooperate fully with Ambassador McKinney in implementing the President's foreign visitor program.

America's greatest tourist attraction is its people. We Americans have always prided ourselves on our hospitality. I ask all Americans, individually and through our fine community organizations, to make a special effort to make foreign visitors truly welcome in the finest tradition of American hospitality.

Note: The Industry-Government Special Task Force on Travel submitted a report to the President on February 19, 1968 (see Item 83).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Designating Ambassador Robert M. McKinney To Head the President's Foreign Visitor Program Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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