Bill Marriott to Obama: Ease inbound traveler restrictions

WASHINGTON, D.C. Marriott International CEO Bill Marriott leveled public criticisms of U.S. travel policy this week, saying hurdles placed on foreign travelers have cost the nation billions in lost revenue and hundreds of thousands of travel sector jobs.

“We’ve become a risk-averse country,” Marriott said during a Tuesday conference in Washington focused on restoring U.S. economic growth, according to MarketWatch. Travelers from most other countries must wait at least three months for a visa to enter the United States, and in some cases they must also interview with embassy officials.

Marriott acknowledged the need for tighter security in the post-9/11 United States, but said previous appeals to the U.S. State Department for travel policy reforms have largely fallen on deaf ears. “We keep talking and they look at us and say, ‘We’re protecting the country,’ ” he said.

The 78-year-old CEO believes that increasing inbound tourism is a diplomatic issue for the United States, as well as an economic one. Foreign travelers who visit the country tend to leave with a more positive view of it, he said.