"The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work.”
-- President Obama, January 19, 2012
This year 1 billion people are expected to travel outside their own countries to see and experience the world. And for every 35 of those international visitors, one job is created.
That's why President Obama went to Disneyworld this week to talk about the importance of travel and tourism in creating American jobs. He also knows that when someone from another country visits the United States, they generally go home a fan, and that's good for our world diplomacy.
But since 9-11 our visa policies have unintentionally put up a big virtual wall around our country. Last session in Congress, there were several bills dealing with the barriers to travel, all geared toward making the process smoother for international visitors to travel to the United States.
Those Congressional efforts were led by Senators Klobuchar and Blunt, and they deserve a lot of credit for pointing out ways the government can do better to harness the economic opportunities that come with more travel.
President Obama, his Cabinet and Ambassadors like Gary Locke in China "get it," too. They want to compete for international visitors in the global marketplace.
So here's what President Obama has promised and we look forward to working with him to accomplish it:
- For the first time, a President has set goals to increase VISA capacity and shorten wait times, and the State Department and Department of Homeland Security are charged with making it happen. Way to go Mr. President!
- He is focused on improving the process in high-demand countries like China and Brazil. There are millions of people in these countries with the economic resources to travel and we want to make the process better so they come to New York, Las Vegas, Disneyworld, or Miami Beach.
- And the President promised to improve our entry experience through programs like Global Entry, to ensure a welcoming process once these travelers get here.
To coordinate this effort, he instructed the Departments of Commerce and Interior to work with the new “Brand USA” to create a strategy to promote travel to the United States. Marriott has also committed three-million to the campaign.
We are proud to make that investment because Marriott, like the President, believes in this country and our terrific travel and tourism industry. The more people that experience it, the better!
He also appointed new members to the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. They will help ensure these great changes get executed and our very own Executive Vice President, Kathleen Matthews, is one of the new Board members. Kathleen keeps me on track, so I know she'll do the same with the State Department!
I'm thrilled to see this great initiative take shape and applaud President Obama’s leadership. Go Brand USA!
I'm Bill Marriott, and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move!