[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[October 30, 1995]
[Pages 1694-1699]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism
October 30, 1995

    Thank you. Please sit down. This is not an endurance contest. 
[Laughter] I am delighted to be here, delighted that this day has 
finally come. I want to thank Greg Farmer for the fine job that he has 
done, and the others who are here: the FAA Administrator, David Hinson; 
the Deputy Transportation Secretary, Mort Downey; Bill Norman, the 
president of the Travel Industry Association of America. I want to say a 
special word of thanks to Loranne Ausley Ellis, who was the executive 
director of this conference. I don't know if she's had any sleep for the 
last week or two, waiting for you all to appear. And a thanks to my good 
friend Congressman Oberstar.
    I was telling Greg Farmer when Jim was up here speaking that Jim 
Oberstar, once he gets the bit in his teeth, he never lets go. If Jim 
had been a dog, half the people in Washington would have rabies. 
[Laughter] He is the most determined person I ever saw. And it might not 
be so bad, depending on which half it was. [Laughter]
    Jim Oberstar came to me with this idea, and I could look in his eyes 
and tell it was going to happen. I might tell you also, on a totally 
different subject, for a very long time he was one of only literally a 
handful of Members of the Congress who supported me in what I ultimately 
had to do in Haiti. Because he speaks Creole--he'd lived in Haiti--he 
knew it was the right thing to do. He knew it was the right thing for 
our country, for the cause of freedom. And when we celebrated one year 
of democratic freedom in Haiti just a couple weeks ago, I thought to 
myself, if it hadn't been for Jim Oberstar and just a couple of more, 
this might not have happened. So he, in a real way, is the father of 
this conference, and I thank him for it very much.
    I do want to thank the Members of Congress and the citizens of both 
political parties who worked so hard to make this day possible. I want 
to thank those of you who took time away to attend this conference. I 
know there are a lot of people here today, as there were at the White 
House Conference on Small Business, who don't work for big companies, 
who don't have generous leave policies and travel allowances, and who 
really had to make a personal effort and a personal sacrifice to come. 
And I thank you for coming because I know what an important part of the 
tourism industry you are.
    I want to thank the State employees who are here who work with 
tourism and the local employees and elected officials who are here. I 
want to thank the students from the Academy of Travel and Tourism 
programs who wrote essays that won prizes about encouraging people to 
visit the United States.
    I am very proud that this is the first White House Conference on 
Travel and Tourism. And I know all of you agree that it's about time.
    This industry has been near and dear to my heart since I was a 
little boy. I grew up in a resort town that also embraced a national 
park. As an adult I've had the good fortune to travel a fair amount, 
although as President I must say one of the more frustrating aspects of 
the job is I go to a lot of interesting places and never get to be a 
    As Governor, I enthusiastically attended our Governor's conference 
on tourism every year. And I want you to know that this is very 
important to me personally and that this time is a very important time 
for you to be gathering here.
    This industry holds much promise for the future of America. It has a 
lot to teach us as Americans, as we stand on the dawn of a new

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era, moving from an industrial age to one that will be dominated by 
technology and information and our ability to relate to one another and 
to move quickly in terms of ideas and technology and people across the 
globe. We've moved at a breathtaking pace from the divided world of the 
cold war to a global village. If the 21st century is going to be an 
American century, we have to master this transition as surely as we 
mastered the shift from the agricultural to the industrial economy. And 
we will.
    To meet the test of the time, we have to dedicate ourselves to 
promoting and strengthening those aspects of American society which will 
clearly work best in the global economy. And we know that trade and 
tourism and travel, all these things are tailor-made for what we do well 
and what the 21st century will value.
    That's why I have dedicated myself to helping this industry grow. A 
healthy travel and tourism industry is good for the economy, and it also 
gives Americans a larger service. If you think back to the first time as 
a child you left home to go somewhere new, recall the first time you met 
someone who was visiting you from a far-off place, I know that you came 
away from the experience with a greater knowledge of other people and 
other communities, a stronger sense of the common humanity that unites 
us all. And I would guess that you returned with an increased 
appreciation for something just as important, your own home, your own 
community, your own roots.
    Travel leads to understanding. It increases the chances of peace, 
and therefore, it increases the chances of a better life for all. When 
you just travel this land you learn the miracle of America. Our people 
are as diverse and wonderful as our landscape. Going to another State 
can almost be like going to another country, and if you come from 
another State to Washington, it's almost like space travel. [Laughter]
    Travel is also democratic, with a small ``d.'' It used to be a 
luxury reserved for the aristocracy. But in the history of American 
travel and tourism you can see that the marvelously optimistic quality 
of our people made this something that everybody ought to do. We look at 
something set aside for the very few at the top and we say, ``Hold on, 
everybody ought to have the opportunity to work hard and then enjoy 
that.'' Most Americans may not travel first class, but for a long time 
now our families have been able to load up the car and head for a fall-
colored national park or a warm beach or a clean motel on the side of a 
road leading to a place they have never been before.
    Of course, the travel and tourism industries are also essential to 
providing opportunity for all Americans in the 21st century. You are our 
largest business service export. As Greg said, in 1993 you generated a 
$22 billion trade surplus for the United States. You're the second 
largest employer in the Nation, providing jobs for over 6 million 
Americans. And of course, you employ millions more through the 
industries that thrive when you do well. As the circle of freedom 
expands around the globe, the tourism industry will keep growing all 
around the world. And as you grow, here at home the hardworking 
Americans whose jobs are changing along with our economy will have a 
chance to find a home with you.
    Many Americans have general worries about all service-sector jobs. 
Somehow they think they're not as steady and don't have as good of 
prospects for the future. But I know that we're all working to prove 
otherwise. Service industry wages are among the fastest rising wages in 
our economy. And I support your efforts to reward hard work and to give 
people incomes that they can build solid lives on and raise children 
with. For all these reasons, I have committed myself to giving your 
industry the opportunity to flourish that it deserves. It is part of a 
strategy that I have embraced to restore the American economy and to 
ensure the American dream and America's leadership into the 21st 
    The first thing I want to tell you is that your country is clearly 
on a roll. We have a resurgence of economic growth. We have a dramatic 
reform in the size and scope and way of operating of our Government. And 
most important of all, we have a reassertion of basic American values in 
every community in this country.
    In the last 2\1/2\ years since I have been privileged to be your 
President, Americans have produced 7\1/2\ million new jobs; 2\1/2\ 
million new homeowners, bringing home ownership to a 15-year high; over 
2 million new small businesses, the most rapid growth of small 
businesses in American history, with the lowest combined rates of 
unemployment and inflation in 25 years. The Government's role in this 
economic resurgence was to reduce the deficit while increasing our 
investment in education, in training, in technology, in research, and in 
partnerships with

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the private sector to promote American products and services all around 
the world.
    Our trade with other countries has increased by 4 percent in '93, 10 
percent in '94, and 15 percent in '95. As a percentage of our national 
income, the deficit is less than half of what it was when I became 
President. For the first time since Harry Truman, the deficit has 
actually been driven down for 3 years in a row. As a percentage of 
income, the United States of America now has the lowest Government 
deficit of any industrial country in the world except Norway. Every 
other country has a higher deficit as a percentage of their income than 
we do. I'm proud of that, and you should be proud of it, too.
    We are now debating here in Washington how to balance the budget. 
But the good news is the leaders of both parties want to finish the job. 
I believe we have to do it in a way that is consistent with our values, 
that keeps our economy going, and that maintains our leadership in the 
    More important even than the economy to me is the encouraging signs 
that Americans are getting back together around the values that make 
life worth living. In almost every State and significant community in 
America the crime rate is down, the murder rate is down, the welfare 
rolls are down, the food stamp rolls are down, the poverty rate is down, 
the teen pregnancy rate is down, and child support collections have 
increased 40 percent in the last 3 years. Our country is moving in the 
right direction and coming back together. That is a terribly important 
    Specifically with regard to the tourism and travel industry, we have 
taken a series of very specific steps designed to help you succeed at 
what you do. First of all, we have a disciplined, coordinated leadership 
effort and a commitment to promoting travel and tourism, beginning with 
the Secretaries of State, Commerce, and Transportation; our Trade 
Representative, Ambassador Kantor; the Overseas Private Investment 
Corporation, led by Ruth Harkin; and the Export-Import Bank, led by Ken 
Brody. Secondly, we have worked very hard to open markets and to support 
U.S. exports including travel and tourism around the world. We have 
concluded more than 80 separate trade agreements in less than 3 years. 
Tourism is an export, and we have fought for it just as we have fought 
for other industry.
    The U.S. Trade and Tourism Association is leading a public-private 
partnership to double the number of Japanese visitors to the United 
States by the year 2000. The reason is clear: Of the 7\1/2\ million new 
jobs that have come into the United States since I have been President, 
2 million, 2 million came from the expansion of the sale of American 
products and services overseas. International visitors spent $78 billion 
here last year.
    The second thing we've worked to do is to sign open-skies agreements 
with more countries to facilitate air travel here. Earlier this year I 
signed an open-skies agreement with Canada, deregulating the world's 
largest aviation market: more flights, lower fares. Last month we 
concluded an open-skies pact with nine European countries. We've 
expanded air service around the world to Great Britain, Brazil, Ukraine, 
the Philippines.
    We've worked hard to give you a healthy airlines industry. They were 
in deep trouble when I came into office. Every airline in America but 
one was losing money. Three were in bankruptcy. From 1988 to 1992, the 
industry lost $12 billion, more money lost in 4 years than it had made 
in its entire history. I appointed a special commission headed by the 
former Governor of Virginia, Gerry Baliles, to revive the industry. 
Secretary Pena has now carried out the vast majority of its 
recommendations. Today the airlines are healthy, the fares are down, the 
passengers are up, and they are turning a profit. We are moving in the 
right direction.
    We've also worried about industry safety, to try to make America a 
safe harbor and to try to guarantee the safety of Americans around the 
world. We see today ironic and mostly encouraging developments, peace in 
the Middle East coming along, more peace and less violence in Northern 
Ireland, tomorrow peace talks opening about Bosnia here in the United 
States, something we are proud to host. We also know that there are new 
threats to our security that go across all national boundaries, that the 
organized forces of destruction and terror know no nationalism.
    We saw terrorism at home blow up the Federal building in Oklahoma 
City and foreign terrorists try to take the World Trade Center down, 
plan to bomb the United Nations. We see abroad when a religious fanatic 
sect can take a small vial of sarin gas into a subway in Japan and break 
it open and kill scores of people and

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injure hundreds of others. And we know we have to work together, 
together with other countries, to reduce the menace of terrorism and 
violence and drug trafficking and organized crime in this world. That 
was the subject of the speech I gave to the United Nations last week on 
the occasion of its 50th anniversary.
    But I also want you to know that we are doing everything we can to 
help your local officials and your community bring the homegrown crime 
rate down in America. The crime bill that was passed in 1994 was an 
astonishing piece of legislation. It provided for putting a hundred 
thousand more police officers on our street in community policing 
settings so that we could reduce the incidence of violent crime. It 
provided for prevention programs, not designed and run by the Federal 
Government but run by local communities to give our young people 
something to say yes to, constructive endeavors, avoiding a life of 
crime. It provided for tougher punishment. And we now have the first 
convictions coming in under the ``three strikes and you're out'' law, 
where we take career criminals and just put them away. It provided for 
all these things, plus the Brady bill, which kept 40,000 criminals from 
getting handguns last year--40,000. Next time somebody tells you that 
didn't work, tell them to think again.
    Now, that's one big reason the crime rate is down. We're on time--
we're actually slightly ahead of schedule in putting these police 
officers out there on the street. And we are trying to give you a safe 
America that everyone is happy to travel in and to be a part of, in 
every State in our community, in cities and rural areas alike. That is a 
very important priority with me. And we've got to keep this crime rate 
coming down, down, down.
    The other thing we're trying to do is rooted in a lesson I learned 
as a Governor when I realized that every time we opened a new State park 
or refurbished an old one, or did something to one of our State's 
landmarks, we helped the private sector tourism in the area. We have 
done everything we could to promote and enhance our national parks and 
our national landmarks and our national monuments, as well as to 
maintain the ability of the United States to have clean air, clean 
water, safe drinking water, and a generally very healthy and high-
standard environment. I am therefore opposed to changes which would 
undermine our ability to provide a clean environment or would require us 
to sell off any of our national parks or national assets.
    I congratulated Congressman Oberstar on the victory won and headed 
by Congressman Richardson of New Mexico, in the Congress just last week 
to get rid of this hit list of over 300 American treasures that some in 
the Congress wanted to sell off, including the home of President 
Roosevelt, where I met with President Yeltsin last week. I hope that 
idea is dying a very timely death. We need to enhance our public 
    So we are committed to doing things that will help the tourism 
industry, that will promote travel, that will enhance your efforts. Let 
me say, we are also doing it with a much smaller Government. There are 
163,000 fewer people working for the Federal Government today than there 
were the day I became President. Next year, the Federal Government will 
be the smallest it's been since John Kennedy was President, under the 
budget we passed in 1993. And as a percentage of the civilian work 
force, it will be the smallest it's been since 1933. The era of big 
Government is done. The era of smart Government is here. It is the right 
thing to do.
    We have 16,000 fewer pages of Government regulations. My favorite, 
because I'm from Arkansas, was when I showed up I realized there was a 
whole page of Government regulations on what grits were. [Laughter] And 
I could have just given the name of 400 people they could teach 
something to, and they could say this is grits or it's not. [Laughter] 
So we're getting rid of a lot of that. We got rid of 16,000 pages--you 
think I'm kidding, it really was there--[laughter]--16,000 pages of 
regulations have been eliminated. We have proposed to eliminate hundreds 
of programs.
    But we also want to make the Government work better. A lot of you 
are small business people. Maybe you've had some help from the Small 
Business Administration. In the last 3 years, we have cut the budget of 
the SBA by 40 percent, but we have doubled the loan volume. We have 
emphasized making loans to women business people and to minorities 
without in any way reducing the loans that white males were getting or 
without watering down the standards for making the loan one bit. The SBA 
is simply working in a more entrepreneurial, more effective way to try 
to help more small business people get started in the United States

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in every part of the United States no matter who they are or where they 
come from. That is the kind of Government that the taxpayers of this 
country are entitled to. And it will help the travel and tourism 
industry if we can accelerate the growth of small business in America.
    Another thing we are trying to do in this Congress--and I think we 
have a good chance to get a bipartisan agreement on this--that affects 
an awful lot of small business people, and I would imagine a lot of you 
in this audience, is to make it easier for small business people to take 
out retirement plans for themselves and their employees. The present 
rules and regulations are a nightmare. They are too cumbersome; they are 
too expensive. The legal fees alone keep thousands of small business 
people from doing anything in this important area.
    So if you're interested in this and this will affect you personally, 
I would urge you to contact your Member of Congress and get a status 
report on this. As far as I know, there is no partisan difference here. 
We just know that small business is creating most of the new jobs in 
this economy; that retirement programs, health care programs are often 
too burdensome, too inaccessible for small business people; and this 
legislation can make it much, much, much easier for people in small 
business to take out retirement plans for themselves and to help their 
employees. And I would urge you to help me get this done. I think we 
have a broad coalition for it. It just needs to be made a priority so 
that no matter how busy we are, we take care of this. I am committed to 
it, and I hope you will be as well.
    Finally, let me say that we are trying to do two more things to make 
the Government work better and cost less that directly affect the travel 
and tourism industry. The Vice President is going to speak to you 
tomorrow, and he will talk about the work we've done in reinventing 
Government with the Customs Service and the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service which has changed the way we greet our own 
citizens and visitors as they enter the United States. If you're coming 
or going legally, we want to get the Government out of the way and get 
you on your way. And that will make a big difference if we do it right.
    Now, finally, I want to mention this second point. We have worked 
very hard to enact reforms at the Federal Aviation Administration. 
Having a Federal Aviation Administration that works, that has the 
confidence of all Americans, that operates the airports efficiently and 
safely, that has a lot to do with how well those of you in travel and 
tourism do, unless you get all your customers off the road. And it is a 
very important thing for the United States, for our economy, for the 
convenience and for the safety of our people.
    The FAA controls the bottom-line efficiency of the airline industry. 
Yet, believe it or not, its air traffic control system in many places 
still depends upon stone age technology that's often older than the 
flight controllers using it. [Laughter] I know that's hard to believe. 
At a time when our private sector is building the most advanced 
airplanes in the world, the FAA is still buying vacuum tubes like this--
the Vice President gave me this just before I came over--to run the 
computers and the radar systems that ought to be run by chips. We 
actually have to buy these vacuum tubes for some of the old computers 
and radar systems from other countries because they're not even produced 
here anymore.
    Now, this is unacceptable. Americans have a right to believe that 
the FAA will be run with the highest technology in the world and that 
they will get where they're going on time at a reasonable cost and at 
maximum safety. I never want a parent to think twice when a child asks 
if the flying is safe.
    Now, we've been very blessed by very safe and careful airlines, and 
our control and regulatory system has worked very well over time. But we 
also know that there's no point in pretending something's all right when 
it's not. It is not all right that the FAA does not have the highest 
technology, safest, most efficient equipment in the world. That is not 
all right. We have to change that.
    That's why more than 2 years ago I made FAA reform a top priority 
and asked the Vice President to include it at the top of his list in the 
National Performance Review. In early 1994, almost 2 years ago, we sent 
Congress a plan to overhaul the Agency. Building on suggestions from the 
airline commission that helped us to turn the airline industry around, 
we called for a procurement system that gets the FAA new technology 
while it's still on the cutting edge, a new personnel system that puts 
controllers where they're needed and rewards them for good work, and a 
radically new financing

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system that ensures stability, demands accountability, and provides 
incentives for efficiency.
    We've done everything we could to fix the FAA on our own. Secretary 
Pena and Administrator Hinson brought in a new management team and put 
in plans to modernize the system. We have speeded up the replacement of 
failing computers at some of our busiest air traffic centers, so there 
will be fewer of these and more of the chips. And we have stepped up 
training for controllers and technicians.
    But unfortunately, we cannot do everything we need to do alone. We 
have to have some legislative help. And I am very pleased that Congress 
has put together finally a transportation appropriations bill that 
embraces the personnel and the procurement reforms we asked for 2 years 
ago. I am very gratified that members of both parties came together to 
create this important legislation, and I'd like to give a special word 
of thanks to Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon. When this bill hits my 
desk--[applause]--we've got the Oregon group back there. When this bill 
hits my desk, I intend to sign it. And we will get FAA back on a glide 
path to the 21st century.
    But there's more to do. We still have to overhaul the financing of 
FAA. Today's budget process simply does not guarantee the agency the 
long-range funding it needs to operate safely and efficiently. Again let 
me thank Congressman Oberstar and Senators McCain, Ford, and Hollings 
for their work on this. I want Congress to redouble their efforts. We 
have got to fix this problem once and for all.
    Now, let me say that these are my ideas for what the National 
Government can do to support you in what you're trying to do. I'm sure 
that you have some ideas about that, too. I never met a group of people 
that I thought had more consistently higher levels of energy and more 
consistent openness to new ideas than the people I work with throughout 
my career who are in tourism and travel.
    One big point of a White House Conference on Travel and Tourism is 
for us to listen to you, not for you to listen to us. I came here to 
make a report to you because you're entitled to that and it will help 
you to know where we are and how we're thinking. But when you leave, I 
want you to report back to me and tell me what more you think we can do 
to help you to succeed.
    I will say again: Next year the whole world will be looking at the 
United States when the Olympics open in Atlanta. They may let the Braves 
carry the torch in now. [Laughter] But the world will be looking at us. 
It will give us a new opportunity, an even greater opportunity, as 
billions of people all over the world look at the United States, to 
enhance the chances that more and more and more of them will want to 
come here to see what America's like up close, to share in all the 
things that too many of our fellow countrymen sometimes take for 
    We want to be ready for that. We want to keep this country on a 
roll. We want to keep coming back to our values, and we want to keep 
pushing our economy forward. And we want to keep being a leading force 
in the world for peace and freedom and prosperity.
    In order to do that, we have to have a healthy travel and tourism 
industry. And by next year when the eyes of the world are on America in 
a clear and focused and open-hearted way, I want to know that you and I 
together have done everything we can to make sure that one of the things 
those eyes take away from the sight of the Olympics is a deep, yearning 
desire to come to America and to be with us in friendship and 
partnership as we pave the way for greater opportunity for these young 
people in the 21st century.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 10:35 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the 
Sheraton Washington Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to President 
Boris Yeltsin of Russia.