Encouraging the Expansion of the Visa Waiver Program

April 15, 2011

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.

Since then, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of South Korean visitors to the U.S. mainland and the Hawaiian Islands.  In fact, since joining the program, the number of Korean travelers visiting the United States jumped 49 percent and Hawaii has gone up by 69 percent.  This increase has had numerous benefits including bolstering the local economy, and has benefited the airline industry as both Hawaiian Airlines and Korean Air have had to add more direct flights to meet the growing demand.  If this isn’t convincing evidence about the importance of the Visa Waiver Program, I certainly don’t know what is.

I implore the U.S. government to continue the process of adding countries to the list.  Brazil is a great candidate and the Administration can start formal inter-governmental dialog, so Brazil and others can make progress towards meeting the requirements as soon as possible.   Congress can help too by enacting the Secure Travel and Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act. It is bipartisan legislation introduced by our Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski and Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, which updates the Visa Waiver Program framework.

Welcoming more visitors to the U.S. is low hanging fruit for economic and job growth, and greater utilization of the Visa Waiver Program can play a big role.

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


Encouraging the Expansion of the Visa Waiver Program

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Have to say I agree with the Patelli's above. As 11 week deeded owners of MVC it has been a nightmare transitioning to this new system. We are nearing one yr anniversary of the "improved system" and still cannot easily see inventory nor book our own weeks without an "advisor" (each telling us different procedural mandates for booking! You should have done a huge beta test with MVC owners before putting the online system into place

Bill, I've also had the pleasire of staying at your place at the Custom House. What a great property. Thank you. Mike

Bill, I have to tell you I am not a fan of the "bistro" format of many Courtyards. I might as well stay at a Motel 6 and walk next door to a Burger King. The food is terrible. And expensive. The buffets were not great but they had fruit, bagels, oatmeal and waffles. As an amatuer chef, I understand food cost. The stuff at the new Courtyards is not edible. Do I just go to a Hilton of a Sheraton? Look at my account. I've very loyal to Marriott.

Mr. Marriott,
I have stayed in Marriott properties more than 660 times in the last 15 years. I am currently retired and live in Colonial Beach VA. It is a town that is on the move and devoted to tourism and art. We have B&Bs but not a hotel of the Marriott quality. Look into Colonial Beach at colonialbeach.org
I think you will like it.

I've been working with the Cultural Exchange program for over 5 years and they are designed to allow foreign professionals to come to the United States to gain exposure to U.S. culture and to receive training in U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field. With the exchange of ideas, culture, and ethics which can promote better hospitality service and exchange of ideas. This program is a great way to compete internationally by having more of an international talent pool to chose from.

Thank you for the informative on the move post. =Quote: "low hanging fruit for economic and job growth".... Brilliant mind! And mind you thank you for sharing & helping us to learn to see business opportunites beyond our own backyard.

In January 2011 my wife and I were stranded in Atlanta at the airport for three days due to a snow storm. We were fortunate enough to get a room at the Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway. We had no luggage and no where to go. It was also our wedding anniversary (January 30th). The front desk manager Justin ******* took the initiative and made sure we were comfortable. At 11:30PM there was a knock on the door and to our surprise there were chocolate covered strawberrys and champagne with a note wishing us a Happy Anniversary. This truly made our trip. The passion and concern demonstarted by this young man brightened our evening and made a lasting memory. We called this the "Marriott Way." We have always tried to stay stay at a Marriott location for pleasure or business and you have truly confirmed our desire to continue this trend in hard economic times. I do hope you recognize Justin Anthony for the effort and committment he showed us and what he demonstrated for Marriott itself. If I can be of any assistance for the recognition of this man please let me know. We continue to smile to this day and take every opportunity to share this story with friends and associates whenever possible. I would appreciate just a quick note letting me know that you have received this letter.
Paul & Patty Gaumond.

Mr. Marriiott how about taking care of your timeshare owners. Owners since 1989, we own three properties. We were always proud of being a Marriott Timeshare owner. Lately we feel that we are being taken advantage of. First with the awful rental program you started and now charging your loyal timeshare owners a fee to join your new point system. We are being nickeled and dimed to death so you can make a profit. Would your dad have been proud of your decisions? I think not. You should value us since we have backed you and believed in your integrity. In talking with many timeshare owners, my husband and I are not alone. All feel the same - very disappointed in the Marriott name. It remains to be seen how this new point system will work to our benefit - I am sure you will benfefit from it. I would not recommend your timeshares to anyone since things have changed drastically. In the past years we have recommended friends and family and they all bought. We would not do the same today. Please review and consider what you are doing. Perhaps if you stopped building and turning over so many new properties and concentrated on what you have and run them as best you can to gain a profit, keeping your customers best interest in mind, you might keep the Marriott name in good standing. As a side note - I even read the life of your dad and still have the book, I was so proud to be an owner. Please don't disappoint us anymore.

Hello, I love to be up on news in the travel business. I did not know of the waiver program for other countries. I think it is a good plan to encourage foreign countries to visit us. I would like to travel more and see other countries myself. That is a great luxury.


In a time of increased border controls and bureaucratic visa procedures, your blog post does come as a breath of fresh air !

Not just the US, but Europe, Russia, India and many other countries that depend on income from tourism must realise what a barrier visas can be.

Mitaroy Goa Hotel

This blog was educational and helped me understand a bit more about international travel. Thank you!

I think the interactive 2010 Annual Report is great.The format is snappy,trendy and the information is extremely well presented. Congratulations !!

Mr. Marriott:

Job creation and growth always test an administration’s infrastructure, visionary and wealth building skills.

Expansion of wealth is always better than increased taxation. Quite a paradigm shift for many.

Thanks for continuously sending the visionary perspective that “Tourism” is one of the major holistic job creation avenues. San Diego is a prime example. Thanks for giving economic challenges as a leader to leaders, as you keep Marriott on the Move.

“ A leader role is to raise people’s aspiration for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.” – David Gergen