Marriott CEO: America's unwelcoming message is hurting the US travel business

Nicole Sinclair
Markets Correspondent

Marriott (MAR) CEO Arne Sorenson said that anti-globalism rhetoric from the current administration has caused the US to lose some of its share of international travel.

“The US is today losing share of international travel,” Sorenson said at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit on Wednesday.

The Trump administration’s proposed travel ban on citizens from mostly Muslim-majority countries, in-place travel restrictions and anti-immigrant rhetoric have dominated headlines recently.

“Now in 2017 what we’re seeing is that there is a shift of international travel increasingly toward Europe, maybe within Asia,” he said. “The rest of the world is hearing too many of the voices which are coming out of the United States as in effect, ‘You’re really not welcome here,’ ‘It might be difficult for you to get a Visa,’ ‘You may need to wonder about the experience you’re going to have there.'”

“I don’t know if that’s what the administration or anyone else intends the message to be,” Sorenson added. “But that’s the way the message is heard in the rest of the world.”

A Marriott flag hangs at the entrance of the New York Marriott Downtown hotel in Manhattan, New York (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

Sorenson explained that before September 11, the US had 11% or 12% of all long-haul international travel. Following the beefed-up security efforts, he explained that the US lost share, which was important to protect security.

But any loss of travelers has an impact to the economy and jobs, Sorenson added.

“We ended up in 2016 with about 75 million international visitors to the United States,” Sorenson said. “If we had the same share we had before 9/11, we would probably would have had 110 million or 115 million—an incremental 30 million or so visitors—which by itself would drive about 1 million jobs in the United States.”