Back in March, the U.S. Travel Association launched a contest to find the face of the travel industry. They were looking for someone who embodied the character and hard working spirit of our industry. I'm proud to announce that this extremely prestigious honor went to one of our Ritz-Carlton associates, Paco Saldana.
Paco grew up in Mexico and came to the United States 13 years ago and has become an American citizen. After arriving in the U.S.A., he got a job at our Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island in Florida, where he worked his way up to become a Guest Services Manager.
His wife also worked at the hotel, which has been very hard hit by the recent cutbacks in travel due to the struggling economy and the toxic rhetoric coming out of Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, she was one of the people whose positions were eliminated as occupancy dropped off severely due to the downturn. So, Paco knows firsthand the challenges the travel industry faces in rebounding from this recession.
During his visit to Washington, he will be meeting with members of Congress, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the media to discuss the important role travel plays in helping us boost the global economy and emerge from this terrific downturn.
I am thrilled for Paco and congratulate him on this tremendous accomplishment. He is the perfect cheerleader to get people and businesses traveling and meeting again, and that's the reason I'm proud to be a part of this great industry.
I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.