Calling for “good, comprehensive immigration reform,” J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International, has said he hopes Congress “works out their differences,” to do “what is right for our industry, our economy and our nation of immigrants.“Speaking at a global tourism and travel conference here, Marriott
rhetorically asked, “Do you industry executives think of yourselves as
felons?” He continued, “We need to stand together to include everyone in
our very diverse work force. It is the diversity of our workforce that
makes us great, yet some in Congress want to criminalize the undocumented
and their employers.”
Marriott said that the U.S. faces “long-term labor shortages,
especially at the entry level,” and that hospitality industry employment
was a “near- record highs.” He said the industry needed workers from other
nations to fill necessary jobs.
While developed nations worldwide are facing cultural and economic
challenges fostered by immigration, providing opportunities was critical,
said Mr. Marriott. “Every country will want to regulate immigration for the
sake of its security and citizens, but we must pursue policies that allow
people to seek the chance to build better lives for themselves and their
families,” he said.
Marriott also reiterated his call for policies allowing freer travel to
the U.S., saying that difficulty obtaining U.S. visas was preventing
millions of visitors from contributing to the U.S. economy. “Last year, 30
million Chinese traveled abroad. They flocked to France, Germany Australia,
Singapore, Hong Kong and Macao. But only 200,000 of that 30 million—came
to the U.S.,” he said.
Marriott hailed the burgeoning travel and tourism industry, citing
increasing wealth worldwide, particularly in China, India, Russia and
Eastern Europe. He also noted that in the U.S. baby boomers were retiring
with plenty of disposable income and that Generations X and Y behind them
loved to travel. He said that while encouraging this active growth the
industry needed to remain a “positive force for good” focused on protecting
the environment and working with governments and international agencies to
prevent human trafficking.