New York Times "World Affairs" columnist, Tom Friedman, clarified globalization in his best-selling book entitled, The World is Flat, where he wrote, "think globally and act locally." His advice was to always maintain a world view, but honor local cultures and customs. Good advice for anyone who travels.
Globalization impacts the travel industry and Tom's recommendation should have been applied to a recent conflict among Cuba, Maria Isabel Sheraton hotel (Mexico City), Mexico, and the U. S. Treasury Department.
Back in February 2006, the U. S. owned hotel was forced by the U. S. Treasury Department to kick-out 16 Cuban officials attending a meeting with U.S. oil executives in Mexico City. The Treasury Department warned Sheraton that it was in danger of violating a 40-year old trade embargo against Cuba.
The Mexican Government was embarrassed and fined Sheraton nearly $112,000 USD.
Should a U.S. owned hotel operating in a foreign country be held accountable to U.S. law or to the local country's law? Which country's law takes priority when (as in this case) the laws are mutually exclusive? And finally, if it is a violation of the U. S. trade embargo for Cubans to stay in a U. S. owned hotel located in a foreign country, then isn't it also a violation for U. S. oil executives to meet with Cubans?
It is no wonder inbound tourism to the United States since 1992 is down more than 35%. When actions regarding the United State's global policies embarrass a foreign country's local customs, it is difficult to expect that country's citizens to want to visit the United States.
To put this in perspective a 1% decrease in inbound tourism removes 151,000 jobs from our economy. Another view of tourism's economic impact on the United State's economy is that since, 1992, the U.S. has lost $286 billion in revenue.