Opening America's Arms to Global Travelers

May 24, 2011

Opening Americas Arms to Global Travelers It’s been a busy few months in the realm of travel and tourism policy, so I wanted the chance to bring you up to speed on what’s going on, and I hope it will lead to measurable change in the way the United States welcomes overseas visitors.  I’ve blogged about this before, and by now, you’re all probably aware of the problems. But, I’m glad to report, some solutions are in the works.

First off, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Roy Blunt held a hearing on visa and entry issues in April entitled, “Tourism in America: Removing Barriers and Promoting Growth.”  They deserve major kudos for heightening Congressional awareness and demanding greater accountability from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.  The hearing looked at travel issues from a new angle and it focused on the tremendous economic opportunities the travel and tourism industry holds.

While the Senators acknowledged the progress made by Homeland Security and the State Department in various areas, the focus remained on the fact the United States has lost a significant amount of market share of global long-haul travel in the last ten years, dropping from 17 percent in 2000 to 12 percent in 2010.  That is a huge drop in share.

The U.S. Travel Association has a plan to reclaim our 17 percent share of global long-haul travel by 2015, and this would generate an additional $859 billion in cumulative total economic output, creating more than a million U.S. jobs if we keep it up for 5 years.

How we can achieve this kind of success is outlined in their recently released report entitled, "Ready for Takeoff."  They recommend 34 specific actions that Congress and the federal government can take to improve the visa processing system in some of our key markets, like China, India, and Brazil.  Some of the recommendations that I think are “low hanging fruit” and need immediate attention are:

Better use of flexible staffing models and temporary staff dedicated solely to processing visas in very high demand markets. When we’ve got a big group checking into our hotels, we staff accordingly, and our government should do the same.

Next, expand the use of technology to improve website capabilities and explore videoconferencing for visa interviews.  This makes the whole process simpler.

Third, revamp and enhance the Visa Waiver Program.  More countries should not have to have visas for people coming to America.

We also reinvigorated the Discover America Partnership to advocate for action on the report’s findings, and I’m pleased that Marriott is on the steering committee for the partnership.

Improving America’s visa and entry policies creates economic opportunities at home and fosters wonderful good-will abroad; opening more doors to a world of opportunity for global travelers, who, hopefully, will visit our hotels.

I’m Bill Marriott, and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.


Opening Americas Arms to Global Travelers



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Hi Bill,
I work for the federal goverment and have stayed in Marriotts for years. They are now requiring us to make our reservations ONLY at FEMA approved locations through their webportal.

Marriotts are RARELY listed on these websites, unfortunately. I want to stay with Marriott, but do you have a plan to be FEMA approved so I can stay at Marriotts?

I stayed here at the Marriott Torreon and was greeted with such amazing service from Omar ***** Front Desk, and then Belen and Angie whom work on the Executive Florr whom took the time to share such personalized service with me. I travel almost 15 days out of the month and its not everyday that you have such AMAZING TALENT like these human beings. THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH!! Truly BILL you should be thanking them for make me feel like this was my home for two days out of my precious life. They are truly the essence of your BRAND:....MUCHAS GRACIAS!! TODO LOS DIAS!!

Dear sir,

I am a UK national and come from a 'friendly' country. I travel to the US 8 times a year - 6 on business and 2 on pleasure. Being such a frequent traveller the US boarder agency insisted that I obtained a Visa - which I did from the US embassy in London.

Even with a visa, each time I arrive at a US border, I'm subjected to a secondary inspection which varies in length between 1/2 an hour to 3 hours. Additionally, I'm subjected to either an in-depth set of questioning or in one instance; I had my suitcase, laptop bag and wallet emptied. Not what I call welcoming. I applaud your blog and hope position in the tourism industry has a voice and makes coming to America a pleasure. I'd like to add, once I'm past boarder control, the people in your great country are always welcoming!

Regards

Michael

Good morning Mr. Marriott, I recently applied for a position at your Vinoy Renaissance Hotel after being laid off after 11 years at my previous job. I was the Executive Assistant to our Vice President and Marriott hotels are the ONLY hotels he would stay at even if it meant being a bit further away from his destination and he travels a lot. I did my own research and have been reading your blogs and thus the main reason for applying to the Vinoy, it is a magnificent hotel and historic landmark. In reading your blogs you remind me quite a bit of him, he is a visionary and a great leader. I signed up for your emails to learn more. And with any luck at all the next time I comment I will be proud to say that I am an employee of the Marriott brand. Thank you.

Marriott Brand is the top priority hotel brand for travelers around the Globe.
They find all prices but the same service in any Marriott hotel.
Bless

WILDER SAVANY

From a wonderful 27 year career with Marriott I have transferred myself and skills to the resort community of Saugatuck/Douglas, Michigan. We just completed a 2 day "ASK ME" hospitality training session for the area merchants and their associates including your "Spirit to Serve" concepts. Due to our proximatey to Chicago, international travelers come to enjoy our historic art and beach community. Thank you for your efforts, we rely on the global travel market too!

Very good blog . This is more than a blog posting Mr. Marriott, it shows the power of leadership in a specialized field with you taking up the mandate to create a stronger and more viable environment for citizens and for the nation as a whole.
One million jobs over a 5 year period, and the regaining of 17% market share and $859 billion.


Mr. Marriott, we are in the midst of college commencement for graduates, and so many speakers of high political standing will give fine speeches but the questions on many graduates mind after the talk will be: Where are the jobs? What have you done to create an environment for my take off? How can one ask for votes, or declare strong fundraising ability with the inability to provide a basic healthy job market for new graduates and current professionals.


Mr. Marriott America is waking up, and leadership such as yours should jolt all executives that much more must be done, outside the confines of their offices. Your Persistent of commitment to a most worthy effort is highly commendable.
The creation of 1,000,000 jobs is a great measuring parameter since my interest in the tourism industry is more focused on ownership. Mr. Marriott on bordering in simplicity, citizens must bridge the gap in making politicians accountable for enacting these policies that create a better standard of living. So the awareness of one million jobs over five years is great for the general population. As a developed nation inviting more of the world to visit, it is time that at least we accomplish Maslow’s first tier of “Hierarchy of Needs” for all citizens.


"The more evolved and psychologically healthy people get, the more will enlightened management policy be necessary in order to survive in competition and the more handicapped will be an enterprise with an authoritarian policy."-Abraham Maslow


Thanks for your update, and your commitment to real change in embracing the importance of job creation for citizens as you keep Marriott on the Move.

I think you are very much out of touch with reality. There are way too many folks out there who would like to create chaos and cause injury. Let's focus on promoting tourism within our country,and let's not rely on foreign tourists coming here.

Good on you, Bill !

For me the USA has been a no go till now after hearing numerous horror stories of people waiting on the pavement in the hot afternoon sun for hours on end to get a US Visa.

Marriott is big enough to have a voice and I am glad that you are using it to positively influence travel and tourism policy.

Cheers
Mihir