Marriott CEO Says Tourism is a 'Rising Tide' for Global Opportunity, Calls for Action to Promote Travel Freedom

The world's growing travel and tourism industry is a powerful engine building global opportunity, but governments need to work with business to promote the freedom of travel, the head of one of the world's largest hotel management companies said today.

J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., who is chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE:MAR) , told the World Travel and Tourism Council summit in Dubai, “Globalization is about movement, mobility, opportunity… And it has been a rising tide lifting 500 million people into better living conditions. “But he said governments, such as the U.S., “need to do more to put out the welcome mat at our airports and borders, such as streamlining visa and entry processes.”

Mr. Marriott said that in the U.S., international trade contributes $1 trillion to the national economy, and that jobs connected to international activity pay between 13 and 18 percent more than jobs overall in the economy.

And, he asserted, “Bottom line, travel is trade.” He said the WTTC reports that travel and tourism made up 12 percent of worldwide exports last year.

“Every time an international visitor visits Palm Island (Dubai), or shops on New York's Fifth Avenue or Tokyo's Ginza, it's the same as exporting a Caterpillar tractor, an Airbus jet, a Sony Playstation or … oil.”

“I think that a world full of travelers is a world humming with opportunity,” said Mr. Marriott. “Travel facilitates public diplomacy. That's why we need to encourage people to move around the planet.”

Noting the link between action on the environment and sustainable growth and opportunity, Mr. Marriott cited an ambitious new project to help protect the planet. Mr. Marriott also said that the company will offset its carbon footprint by partnering with the Brazilian State of Amazonas to preserve and protect 1.4 million acres of the Amazon Rainforest.

He said that, as part of working with a range of green organizations, Marriott recently had collaborated with Conservation International to calculate its carbon footprint for its managed hotels at 2.9 million metric tons of CO2 emissions a year.

“They say the Amazon is the lungs of the planet, and we want to keep the planet breathing. In the coming months, we plan to give our associates, guests and our business partners a chance to participate in this important carbon offset project,” said Mr. Marriott.

“At Marriott, we realize that we're all guests on this planet. We share a responsibility to look out for the long term health of the environment. That's why we believe the future of our business is green,” he said.

Mr. Marriott pointed to the company's 30-year track record of responsible energy consumption and waste reduction, and said Marriott plans to further cut fuel and water consumption by 25 percent per available room over the next 10 years, as well as work toward building green hotels, including in the Mideast. He also pointed to the company's purchase of nearly 50 million recycled BIC pens per year as an example of the kind of large-scale supply chain impact many companies can mobilize.

“As we build global opportunities in beautiful destinations around the world, we should leave as light a footprint as possible,” he said.