ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Rome Mayor Joe Fusco and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente welcomed President Obama after he landed at Griffis International Airport Thursday.
Both local officials say they were honored to greet the president before he continued on to Cooperstown to bolster tourism at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Not only did they get the chance to shake Mr. Obama's hand, but they were able to have a brief conversation as well.
"We talked a little bit about baseball, talked about the economic activity, not only here at the Griffis Tech Park, but also in the region. He was very up to snuff on what we're doing with nano technology, what we're doing with the drones, so that was very impressive," said Fusco.
Before boarding Air Force One Thursday morning, Mr. Obama met with tourism industry CEOs and senior executives to discuss the importance of tourism. Mr. Obama has called it one of America's most important exports and a major economic driver, as it employs about 8 million people in America. Business owners and local officials hope his visit will shine a light on Cooperstown, letting the nation know it's a desirable destination.
"Visiting has an impact on tourism and I think that's essential because we are a great tourism area. Upstate New York sometimes gets forgotten on the national scene, but the fact that he's recognizing it and everything that's happening in baseball and what's happening this year, the fact that he's going to Cooperstown, that's all part of the Mohawk Valley, that's part of our regional council," said Picente.
Mr. Obama's Cooperstown visit is part of a larger effort to boost tourism in the United States. He signed a memorandum Thursday morning to improve and quicken the entry of international citizens at airports. One of the steps includes adding automated passport kiosks at 25 airports by the end of this year.
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