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More effective ways must be developed to ensure that participants of tradeshows from abroad have convenient opportunities to participate in U.S.-based exhibitions, the CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events told a gathering of security and terrorism specialists this week.
Steven Hacker, CAE, FASAE, addressed the Center for Strategic & International Studies Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program conference, which was organized as a result of President Obama's earlier call to expedite U.S. visa processing services.
"Buyers and sellers’ participation in the U.S. economy is essential if the U.S. is to fully recover from the Great Recession," he said. Hacker cited data that shows removal of the visa obstacles would increase sales at events by $2.6 billion. Hacker said the average spending by each international attendee is more than $13,600, and the spending by international exhibitors averages more than $36,100. By expanding the Visa Waiver Program, new sales to U.S. companies would jump $2.4 billion from the incremental attendance of overseas visitors, and the revenue generated would sustain 17,500 new jobs directly; 43,000 jobs overall, Hacker said. Additional benefits would be realized by the U.S. economy with three quarters of a billion dollars in state and federal taxes that would be created.
He proposed that adding flexibility to the Visa Waiver Program will encourage emerging middle-class Chinese, Indian and Brazilian citizens to participate in U.S.-based trade events. He also believes a 10-year visa with a reciprocity agreement will also encourage more participation at tradeshows, and therefore spending on U.S. goods and services.
Hacker also would like to see video interviews, mobile processing vans and other technological advances to aid the influx and process automation, to reduce visa issuance to about 10 days.
"Two years remain before the president’s goal of doubling U.S. exports expires. Only by pursuing aggressive and creative solutions to the many visa hurdles that have kept so many legitimate business travelers out of the U.S. can we hope to achieve that very challenging goal," he concluded. Details: www.iaee.com.