The president and chief executive officer of Marriott International has said the travel bans imposed by US president Donald Trump on a number of Muslim countries are “not good”.
Arne Sorenson (pictured right) was speaking at a press briefing in Dubai when he was quizzed on the impact of Trump’s controversial policies in the Middle East.
“We remain cautiously optimistic we will navigate in a way through this but the travel bans are not good. Period,” said Sorenson.
“It is still early. We expect it to have more impact on discretionary leisure travel than business travel. Discretionary leisure travel tends to be more seasonal and has a longer booking window.”
He said early figures suggest that visitors from the Middle East to the United States are down in excess of 20% and that London could benefit from GCC visitors who are looking for an alternative destination.
“It doesn’t look like it just now but the total picture is not as bad as you might think despite the noise that’s out there,” said Sorenson.
“It is important to us that immigration and travel are treated as two different things. Ninety-nine per cent of travel has nothing to do with immigration.”
The vast majority of people are getting on a plane to do business or for leisure, claimed Sorenson who added there is no reason the USA or Britain couldn’t have an immigration policy while at the same time having a policy welcoming business and leisure travellers.
He said that is in the self-interest of those countries to accept and promote travel as that industry creates 10% of employment globally and creates extraordinary tax revenue.
“On the positive side Trump is likely to move towards business friendly policies and GDP enhancing growth,” said Sorenson.
“I think that’s why the US market is expecting better growth and when the US economy grows more robustly than expected it tends to be good for economies all over the world.”