The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has released its new study, The Economic Impact of International Non-Participation in the Exhibition Industry Due to US Visa Issues. Key findings include the following.
- Visa issues precluded 116,000 international participants from attending U.S. exhibitions. This includes 78,400 international attendees and 37,900 international exhibitors who were hindered from participating.
- With no visa barriers in place, the U.S. economy would realize increases in business sales tallying $2.4 billion ($2.6 billion including sales to foreign exhibitors). These gains include $1.5 billion in business-to-business trade, $540 million in registration fees and exhibition space spending and a $295 million boost to visitor spending.
- The new $2.4 billion in sales would be able to sustain more than 17,500 jobs directly, 43,000 jobs overall and generate three-quarters of a billion dollars in state and federal taxes.
CEIR says current U.S. visa policy discourages and/or makes it impossible for many foreign nationals to obtain a visa to enter the country to conduct business at exhibitions. In many instances, the face-to-face interview currently required at consulate offices may last just two minutes, with no questions asked or paperwork reviewed that would validate the need for a visa.
"This study quantifies the importance of U.S. exhibitions in generating export trade and stimulating job growth," said Steven Hacker, CAE, president of the International Association of Exhibition and Events (IAEE). "While we are mindful of the need for careful screening of international visitors entering the U.S., keeping our borders secure should not be at the expense of keeping our economy open for business. The U.S. will lose sales to other countries if we continue on this path. We intend to present these findings to several key federal agencies including the State, Homeland Security and Commerce departments and to work with officials to find an optimal solution."