Exhibitions Day 2019 brings exciting policy discussions

The sixth annual Exhibitions Day took place this week in in Washington, D.C., and once again, industry members came together to meet federal legislators and other policy influencers on the Hill.

Last year, more than 100 members, including T3 Expo, gathered in DC to advocate for the exhibitions and events industry. This year, industry leaders are once again addressing the issues that matter and that impact our organizations, including Investing in America’s Transportation Infrastructure; the Secure Travel Partnership Act of 2019; the JOLT Act of 2019 and; Protecting Brand USA.

“T3 Expo believes that getting involved in shaping policy decisions that impact our business is crucial for the overall future success of the industry, our clients and associations,” said Tim Heffernan, chief development officer, T3 Expo. “The U.S. lags other countries in promotional efforts and we need to do more the be the best and not to fall further behind in areas such as infrastructure, job creation and innovation.”

According to the World Economic Forum, the U.S. ranks ninth in the world in infrastructure quality. Inadequate supply of infrastructure is one of our top 10 most problematic factors for doing business. Due to decades of under investment in transportation infrastructure mobility to and within the U.S. has declined. The lack of transportation infrastructure investment is costing the U.S. economy millions in revenue.

Transportation is critical to getting people, supplies and cargo to and from events across the country. We all felt the impact on the events industry during the government shutdown in January.

"Our business is about producing events and shows that bring people together and create memorable face-to-face shareable moments. Our business requires a great deal of air travel to support our clients and when travel was snarled during the shutdown it created havoc for many clients and customers trying to move from point A to point B," added Heffernan.

Even outside of the government shutdown, we all know that our airports, highways, passenger rail, and transit systems are in a state of congestion and disrepair, and this creates a negative impact on the economy when people and goods can’t be transported.

Without proper transportation infrastructure, it is extremely challenging to accommodate trade shows and all our needs.

Another area of discussion during the IAEE Exhibitions Day included the Secure Travel Partnership Act of 2019. According to http://www.exhibitionsday.org/, in 2017, 23 million travelers arrived in the U.S. from Visa Wavier Program countries and generated $190 billion in economic activity. Visitors from the 38 countries that participate help generates a $77 billion trade surplus for the U.S.

Many in the events industry believe it is important to rename the program to more accurately depict the security enhancements and demonstrate strong support for secure and better travel for international travelers who have already been highly vetted. Embracing policies that enhance the global business travel market will enable growth that is crucial to achieving nation’s economic goals.

What is the JOLT Act of 2019? This was another area of discussion during the two day event that is in support of the over 1.2 million jobs across America that have been directly supported by international inbound travel.

For the U.S. to grow that number as well as regain and increase its share of the global travel market, it is important to improve and expand the programs that are currently in place. According to the industry, the JOLT Act will update and strengthen numerous programs related to the efficiency and volume of international inbound travel and help the U.S. regain its share of the global travel market.

President Trump’s FY2018 budget proposal calls for the elimination of funding for Brand USA, a federally supported organization that promotes the country overseas as a business and tourist destination. Brand USA is a bipartisan program funded by inbound airline passenger fees and private industry, so there is no cost to U.S. taxpayers. The program’s efforts are crucial to attracting international business travel, investment, and fair and free trade.

A 2019 study by Oxford Economics shows Brand USA’s marketing efforts are generating a high return on investment (ROI) and driving significant incremental international visitation.

Heffernan added, "All of these discussions are so critical to our industry. They are about creating jobs and, growing our industry. We are excited about what this year holds and how the events industry can help make a difference in policy discussions and regulations."