Marriott International on Thursday apologized for
distributing a survey that listed Taiwan and Tibet as separate countries. The
Chinese government reportedly blocked Marriott's website in response to the indiscretion.
Also, Marriott said one of its employees "liked" a
Twitter post that suggested, incorrectly, that Marriott supported the
characterization of Taiwan and Tibet as their own countries.
Marriott said that it took down and adjusted the survey and
scoured its websites and apps to ensure that there weren't other cases where
Taiwan and Tibet were listed as countries.
support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China
and we do not intend in any way to encourage or incite any such people or
groups," Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson wrote in a statement on Marriott's
website. "We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely
The Chinese government reportedly blocked Marriott's website
over the incidents. According to CNN, the Chinese government vowed to block
both Marriott's websites and apps for a week.
Marriott is trying to avoid alienating a country whose
citizens are the biggest spenders on foreign travel. In the third quarter of
2017, Marriott boosted the number of room nights sold to mainland Chinese
travelers by almost 20%, Sorenson said on the company's earnings call in
Marriott last summer established a joint venture with
Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. The joint venture was designed to enable
Marriott to market directly to Alibaba's customers, estimated at 500 million
monthly active users.
Also, China is a crucial market for Marriott's planned hotel
growth for its select-service and luxury brands.