CEIR Releases Study Quantifying the Impact of U.S. Visa Issues on the U.S. Economy



NEW ORLEANS, 7 December 2010 - The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) today released a major study, The Economic Impact of International Non-Participation in the Exhibition Industry Due to US Visa Issues. CEIR commissioned Oxford Economics to conduct the assessment during the summer of 2010 based on a nationwide survey and the CEIR Exhibition Industry Census.

Visitor visa issues impede participation in trade shows, acting as a barrier to foreign trade as US companies fail to meet with current or potential prospects. Additional export losses are experienced in the form of lost international visitor spending in the hospitality and meetings industries.

Key findings of the research include:

  • Visa issues precluded 116,000 international participants from attending US exhibitions. This includes 78,400 international attendees and 37,900 international exhibitors who were hindered from participating.
  • With no visa barriers in place, the US 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 over 17,500 jobs directly, 43,000 jobs overall, and generate three-quarters of a billion dollars in state and federal taxes.

Increasing international attendance at US exhibitions is a significant challenge for US exhibition organizers. Current US 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 US 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 US, keeping our borders secure should not be at the expense of keeping our economy open for business. The US 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."

Sales would increase the most in the manufacturing and business services industries, with both sectors benefiting from the direct increase in sales from international attendees and from being part of the supply chain to other industries that directly gain sales.

"The current US visa policy has become the number ONE obstacle for US machine tool companies doing business in China," said Peter Eelman, vice president - Exhibitions & Communications, AMT - The Association for Manufacturing Technology.

Hotels would experience additional business of nearly half of the $295 million increase in visitor spending. Spending at restaurants from the additional 116,000 attendees would increase $60 million with retail purchases and ground transportation spending of $60 million.

For more information on The Economic Impact of International Non-Participation in the Exhibition Industry Due to US Visa Issues, contact Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP, executive director of CEIR at cbreden@ceir.org or +1 (972) 687-9201.

For more detailed information on the methodology and data, contact Adam Sacks, Managing Director, Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, at adam@tourismeconomics.com or +1(610) 995-9401.

About CEIR
CEIR serves to advance the growth, awareness and value of exhibitions and other face-to-face marketing events by producing and delivering research-based knowledge tools that enable stakeholder organizations to enhance their ability to meet current and emerging customer needs, improve their business performance and strengthen their competitive position. For additional information, visit www.ceir.org.


Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP
Executive Director
Center for Exhibition Industry Research
+1 (972) 687-9201