DALLAS -- President Obama signed the Travel Promotion Act today which represents an enormous victory for the exhibitions, meetings and travel industries. The legislation, led by the lobbying efforts of the U.S. Travel Association and dozens of supporting organizations, including the International Association of Exhibitions & Events, took almost three years to pass through Congress.
"All IAEE members who visited Washington D.C., who talked with, wrote and called their Congressional representatives and senators share in this important victory," says IAEE President Steven Hacker, CAE. "Working in tandem with our partners across the industry ensured that our messages were both heard and acted upon. It is now time to go about the work of recapturing international market share for the business travelers who are so important to our domestic trade shows and events."
In the last decade, the U.S. lost substantial ground in the global travel market to other nations. The economic loss to the nation is estimated to be in excess of billions. Now that the Travel Promotion Act is law, the U.S. will have a source of travel promotion support for the first time.
The Act creates a public-private Corporation for Travel Promotion that will be supervised by the U.S. Department of Commerce and will also interact with the Departments of State and Homeland Security. An 11-member board will be created representing a broad cross-section of interests that depend upon international travelers. An executive director will run the day-to-day operations of the corporation that will create marketing and communications programs designed to attract more international visitors.
No taxpayer dollars will be used to support the corporation. Funding will be provided by both a new fee that will be paid by foreign travelers who are exempt from paying U.S. visa fees and annual private sector contributions.
In a related matter, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) is currently conducting research with Oxford Economics to determine the extent of economic losses to U.S.-based exhibitions arising from the tardy processing or denial of U.S. visas to foreign nationals. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the impact has been substantial. Results of the ground-breaking research will provide additional tools with which to modify U.S. visa and entry policies, thus enabling more business travelers to attend exhibitions and similar events in the United States.
For more information about the Travel Promotion Act, visit the U.S. Travel Association Web site.
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