Twenty years ago, a group of industrious Finnish business women and men in the travel profession established the Discover America Committee – a cooperative effort to make the exploration of the United States easier and more meaningful for Finnish travelers. This happened prior to the world of instant internet information (or misinformation), years before there was electronic ticketing or self check-in kiosks and way before personal cells phones actually represented a practical choice for communication. (In 1989, Motorola introduced the first “flip-phone” for personal use – the MicroTAC – with a retail price of $3,000.)
The skills and knowledge that these professionals brought to travelers back then remain as valuable and unique today. And the significance of Finns meeting Americans and Americans meeting Finns is not just about the adventure and pleasure of travel. It is the foundation of the friendship between our two nations.
To honor the work of these Finns, my wife and I hosted a dinner at the residence in their honor. Two hours stretched into three hours as stories were told, adventures recounted and friendships deepened.
Here we are all trying to fit into the video:
One final comment on this event: Traveling to America is not important simply because you get to see America. It is important because it lets us meet you. As I have said in many of my speeches here, Finland is an easy place to fall in love with. Not merely because of its physical beauty, but because of its people. When Finns travel to the United States, Americans get to know Finland, and that in turn will bring Americans here on their travels and in their hearts. So if you haven’t visited America lately, come back, we miss seeing you.