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A Big Day for U.S. Tourism

Posted:01/20/201212:26 PM

"The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work.”

 -- President Obama, January 19, 2012

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Destination Board

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.  President Obama & Bill Marriott

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.

JW Marriott Marquis Miami

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!

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Making the Tough Call

Posted:08/22/2011 3:28 PM

 

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I bought President Bush’s autobiography, Decision Points, a while ago and during some quiet time over the Fourth of July weekend had an opportunity to read it.

Decision Points Cover

It was obvious that President Bush wrote the book himself.  It included many wonderful, personal stories about him, his courtship of Laura, his drinking problem in his early years, and his very strong, loving relationship with this mother and dad.

I was anxious to learn about the background for his decision to invade Iraq, in search of weapons of mass destruction, since none were found after the fall of the country.  

Bush said he relied on the strong recommendation of the NIE, National Intelligence Estimate, that emphatically stated that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions.  If left unchecked, he believed Iraq would have had a nuclear weapon during this decade. 

In the fall of 2002, Congress supported his congressional war resolution.  The Senate passed it 77 to 23, the House 296 to 133.  Later that fall, the UN Security Council passed a similar war resolution unanimously, 15 to nothing.

Reports of Iraq’s WMD continued to pour in from around the world.  When Bush made the decision to invade, he wrote: “Given everything we knew, allowing Saddam to stay in power would have amounted to an enormous gamble.  I would have had to bet that either every major intelligence agency was wrong or that Saddam would have a change of heart.  After seeing the horror of 9/11, that was not a chance I was willing to take.  Military action was my last resort.  But, I believed it was necessary.”

My major learning from reading Decision Points was the great difficulty the President had in gaining consensus from his White House staff and his cabinet on major decisions that confronted him.  

Frequently, his team ended up with conflicting recommendations, leaving the final decision to the President himself. 

As we know, he was willing to make some tough calls – mostly without the full support of his team.  Many decisions were good and he freely admits that some were not.  But he made the call and he stuck to it.  

While many Americans are still critical of the President’s decision, after reading the book, I believe history will be more kind to him for his strong leadership. 

I’d love to hear what you’re reading this summer.  Send me some recommendations.  

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

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 P.S. Here's what you've been reading.  It's compiled from your comments. -- Bill 

"Nothing to Fear" by Adam Cohen; "Try Known and Unknown" by Donald Rumsfeld; "The Miracle of Freedom: 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World" by Chris Stewart; "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot; “Lion In the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt” by Aida Donald; "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett; "The Kennedy Legacy" by Edward "Ted" Kennedy; "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand; "1421 - The Year That China Discovered America" by Gavin Menzies; "The Mastery of Love" by Don Miguel Ruiz; "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl; "Cleopatra" by Stacy Schiff; "Goodbye To A River" by John Graves; "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham; "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett; "Abraham Lincoln" by James M. McPherson; "The Ark of Millions of Years" by E.J. Clark and B. Alexander Agnew; "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese; "Enchantment" by Guy Kawasaki; "John Adams" by David McCullough; "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald; "Beyond Basketball" by Mike Krzyzewski.

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Opening America's Arms to Global Travelers

Posted:05/24/2011 5:01 PM

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.

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Encouraging the Expansion of the Visa Waiver Program

Posted:04/15/201110:58 AM

Hawaii I’ve blogged before about how beneficial the Visa Waiver Program is to the United States travel and tourism industry.  But, it also helps a lot of other industries in our country, including all the restaurants and retail that rely so much on international travelers.  The Visa Waiver Program allows low-risk countries and travelers to visit the United States without the hassle and the expense of getting a visa -- and it's a great stimulant for our economy.

I was just in Hawaii and was very pleased to learn that this beautiful U.S. destination has benefited greatly from the program.  Many international visitors to Hawaii come from Eastern Asia, and in the past, citizens of several of these countries had to get visas before their trip, which was a real problem.  However, in November of 2008, South Korea was added to the list of countries that no longer require a visa to enter our country, allowing the state department to reallocate those resources in other areas.

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Talking Travel with the Governor of Puerto Rico

Posted:03/31/2011 5:04 PM

Puerto Rico Flag I was recently in Puerto Rico and had the opportunity to meet with the governor, Luis Fortuño.  He really understands the immense value the travel and tourism industry brings to his country.  Back in the 1990s, Governor Fortuño served as the first Secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce, the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and, also, the President of Puerto Rico’s Hotel Development Corporation.

And in his current role, Governor Fortuño is calling on his past experience to position Puerto Rico as an inviting destination that offers wonderful hotels for corporate, group and leisure guests to create an economic stimulus for the island.  Thanks to his commitment to travel and tourism, Puerto Rico is becoming one of the leading Caribbean destinations for upscale and luxury hotels.

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A Warmer Welcome Means More Jobs

Posted:11/18/201012:01 PM

A Warmer Welcome Means More Jobs President Obama has just returned from Asia, where he had an extensive visit promoting U.S. exports.  But here at home we’re doing all we can to increase exports and create more jobs because each time a visitor from abroad buys a hotel room in the United States, that counts as an export.  We need more visitors to the United States from abroad and we can generate a lot more export dollars and more jobs.

I’ve talked about this before, particularly about the decline in overseas travel to the United States.  Since the year 2000, America has lost 440,000 jobs and more than $500 billion in total travel-related spending.  I continue to worry that our government isn’t doing enough to increase visitors to America from abroad.

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Partnering with the U.S. Government: Secretary Napolitano Visits Marriott

Posted:07/13/2010 4:48 PM
Secretary Napolitano in Marriott Test Kitchen We recently had the privilege of hosting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, at our headquarters to talk about issues our industry and her agency have in common.  Our associates, including the chefs in our Marriott test kitchen, were thrilled to meet the Secretary.

First, we talked about immigration reform.  She is the former Governor of Arizona, so she is acutely aware of the challenges our country faces because of a difficult immigration system.  For years, I’ve advocated the need to address security at our borders and, also, to provide opportunities for hard-working immigrants.  And, yet, our leaders on Capitol Hill have been reluctant to deal with this difficult issue.  That’s why I joined mayors and other business leaders in the Partnership for a New American Economy to work together to spur action on immigration reform.
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Saluting Marriott's Heroes in Bangkok

Posted:06/08/201012:10 PM
Bangkok We’re in the hospitality business and nothing gives us more pleasure than welcoming our guests for life’s most memorable moments, an important business negotiation, or simply a good night’s sleep.

Sometimes, situations outside our control create inhospitable conditions, like the tragic events that recently unfolded in Bangkok. That’s when our focus shifts to protecting our guests’ personal well-being and doing our very best to ensure that they have a hotel to come back to.
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Ni-Hao from China

Posted:05/25/201011:52 AM
At the USA Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai Ni-Hao.  I’m blogging from the USA Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China.  This is an absolutely phenomenal development.  The Chinese and the participating countries have spent over $58 billion to stage this mega-event.  It is, without doubt, the finest thing I’ve ever seen in terms of expos and world fairs.  I attended the World’s Fair in 1939 at the age of seven.  I don’t remember much about it, but it was a big deal in my life at the time.

It’s wonderful to see China investing so much money in travel and tourism and it is becoming one of the world’s most compelling destinations.  We were the only hotel company to participate in the USA Pavilion and I’m excited and honored that our name is here where millions of Chinese will be able to see the Marriott name and think about us as they travel the world.
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A Meeting with Wall Street Analysts

Posted:04/19/201011:01 AM
Bill Marriott with Green Street Analyst John Arabia On Tuesday night (April 13) I was at the Green Street Lodging Conference at our Ritz-Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C., and met with a group of Wall Street analysts and other industry leaders.  We discussed what lies ahead for our company and the entire travel industry as we come out of this recession.

It was a great meeting, but instead of me telling you about it, we've posted a condensed 20 minute recording of the session that you can listen to by clicking here.
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I'm Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International.

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