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Marriott fires employee over territorial error

Writer:   | Editor: Lily A  | From:  | Updated: 2018-01-15

MARRIOTT International has suspended an employee and terminated a contract with a contractor who mistakenly listed Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao as separate countries in a customer questionnaire, the Asia Pacific head of the world’s largest hotel chain said Friday.

The customer questionnaire was compiled and distributed by a third-party company hired by Marriott International. However, the staff of the hotel did not review the drop-down menu, said Craig S. Smith, president and managing director of Asia Pacific at Marriott International, which has sparked an outcry among Chinese.

Smith said Marriott has ended cooperation with the unidentified third-party company. An employee has been suspended and will be fired for “liking” a tweet that “congratulates Marriott International for listing Tibet as a country” by a separatist group.

The mistake of the employee has misled the public, said Smith.

Smith made the response when meeting with Wang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the China National Tourism Administration.

He apologized during the meeting and said training on China’s laws and regulations will be enhanced to avoid any “serious mistake.”

Wang ordered Marriott to draw a lesson from the incident and thoroughly scrutinize content on its website and app.

Meanwhile, Chinese online travel agency ly.com and lifestyle website meituan.com have removed hotels under the Marriott International group from their websites.

In another development, Shanghai cyberspace administration Friday ordered two transnational enterprises Zara and Medtronic to remove all illegal content from their websites.

According to reports from local media, Spanish clothes company Zara’s website and U.S. medical technology firm Medtronic’s website had categorized Chinese territories as countries.

Delta Airlines has also apologized for listing Tibet and Taiwan as independent countries on the Chinese version of its official website and promised to take immediate measures to correct the mistakes.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China on Saturday asked all foreign airlines operating in China to conduct self-checks on their websites, mobile apps and other platforms for similar mistakes in an online notice.