Marriott International, Inc. today announced plans to increase spending among diverse suppliers to 15% by 2009.

Additionally, the programme will expand to include a new category for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) suppliers and international markets, Brazil and the United Kingdom.

“Last year, our company reached record levels in spending,” said Mike Tobolski, senior director, Diversity Initiatives, Marriott International, Inc.

“We plan to build on our company’s success in the U.S. and expand our programme to nurture relationships internationally and within the LGBT community.”

The hotel chain, which owns The Ritz Hotel in London, has nearly 2,900 lodging properties in the United States and 68 other countries and territories.

They have more than 60 hotels in the UK.

Marriott International operates and franchises hotels under the Marriott, JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites and Bulgari brand names.

The company also develops and operates vacation ownership resorts under the Marriott Vacation Club, Horizons by Marriott Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton Club.

Marriott operates executive apartments, furnished corporate housing and conference centres.

The company had approximately 151,000 employees at the end of 2006.

In April, Marriott became a corporate member of the US National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Marriott announced earlier this year a record spend of $400 million among diverse suppliers in 2006.

In 2005, the company set a goal to spend more than $1 billion with diverse suppliers by 2010.