Today marks the beginning of National Travel and Tourism Week, which is especially important this year given the state of the economy and its impact on travel. I started my day at the Residence Inn Pentagon City in Arlington, Virginia, where our associates were celebrating their brand's culture at their annual RIsolution Day.
It was a lot of fun. Many of the associates were in their native costumes - countries ranging from Ethiopia to the Philippines, Ghana, Morocco and several from Latin America. There were two guests here who had lived in the hotel for three years. They were what we would call very extended stay guests.
I believe our associates are the best at what they do and provide our guests the best travel experiences possible. They're the true faces of the travel industry.
It seems our business has been hit with a triple whammy. First, the global recession, and then an assault on business meetings by our government officials and the new flu virus, which is waning. That's why I'm meeting this afternoon with Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, who is the chair of the National Governors' Association, and Roger Dow, the head of the U.S. Travel Association. We're kicking off National Travel and Tourism Week to encourage people to get out and travel because taking a vacation or traveling for business will help drive the economic recovery.
I'm so glad that Governor Rendell and the National Governors' Association recognize the importance of travel and tourism to not only the national economy, but to every local economy as well. Just recently, the U.S. Commerce Department reported the number of people traveling into the United States from abroad is down ten percent from what it was last year and U.S. unemployment is at a 25-year high. Getting people to travel here will create jobs.
I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.