Out of all the public policy issues we watch, the fiscal cliff is certainly the biggest one impacting our business. It’s more important than the economy in China and the European debt crisis.
Arne Sorenson, our CEO, was invited to the White House to share our views on how to get the deal done. He wrote a great op-ed for The Huffington Post, and I share his views, including admiration for those who surfaced as leaders.
But amidst this cloud of uncertainty are glimmers of great hope for our industry on two critical issues: immigration reform and facilitating travel.
President Obama has been a strong advocate for the travel industry, and his agencies have risen to the challenge he set forth in the National Travel and Tourism Strategy. We’re seeing high demand and historically low visa interview wait times in China and Brazil. The Administration facilitated the recent entry of Taiwan into the Visa Waiver Program, and the resulting influx of Taiwanese visitors will generate significant new tourism revenues in our country. More international tourists mean more jobs. President Obama is committed to our industry, fully understands our job creating potential and the fact that travel-related sales to foreigners are America’s top service export.
Immigration is another bright spot and has gotten a lot of attention as pundits analyzed the elections. This will be another area where we are going to need significant leadership, a calming of rhetoric, and a bridging of differences. Our immigration system is flat broke—I’ve written about it many times before.
We need our leaders to develop a solution immediately in 2013, before the next elections make otherwise sensible legislators retreat. Legislation that addresses all of the problems in our immigration system is necessary to make sure that our associates – wherever they come from – can pursue the American dream.
I’ve made some hard decisions in my career that I knew would impact people’s lives. I’ve had to sit across the table from people I didn’t particularly like and people I disagreed with. But I never got up, turned my back, and walked away—expecting that someone else would do my job. The art of the negotiation is one I hope has not been forgotten in Washington, and great respect is due to those who dare to lead.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.