President Obama signed the Travel Promotion Act 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 IAEE, 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.
The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau (SFCVB) welcomed news that President Obama has signed the Travel Promotion Act into law. The new legislation will create economic growth and thousands of new American jobs by welcoming millions more international travelers to the United States.
“The United States is equipping itself to compete in the international travel market as so many other countries are successfully doing today by promoting our diverse destinations and travel policies abroad, all under a collective national brand,” said Joe D’Alessandro, SFCVB president and CEO. “Travel promotion legislation enacted in Washington will benefit every state across America and support more than 70,000 travel-dependent workers in San Francisco. I applaud Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Jackie Speier for embracing travel as an economic stimulant and getting this bill to the President for his signature.”
“This is a historic victory for the U.S. economy and the one in eight American workers whose jobs depend on travel,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “The United States Congress has sent a clear message that travel is a high priority to our nation and that tangible steps must be taken to increase travel to and within the United States. We are extremely grateful to President Obama and to the bill’s champions: Senators Reid, Dorgan, Ensign and Klobuchar in the Senate and Representatives Delahunt, Blunt and Farr in the House.”