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New AEM-Supported Travel Initiative will Bring Overseas Buyers to U.S. Shows

A new presidential Executive Order on travel and tourism includes visa-processing reform that should help qualified international buyers attend AEM-produced exhibitions. AEM has actively advocated the need to remove visa barriers to trade.

Under the order, the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior have been charged with developing a new National Travel & Tourism strategy to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the U.S. AEM has supported the work on behalf of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and the U.S. Travel Association as well as lobbied directly regarding issues with obtaining visas to AEM-produced events. 

The Departments of State and of Homeland Security will be charged with boosting non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent in 2012, with 80 percent of applicants to be interviewed within three weeks of receipt of application instead of the current 30 days. A pilot program will also simplify the process for certain applicants, including the possibility of waiving interviews for some very-low-risk applicants.

Taiwan and Visa Waiver Program

Under the Executive Order, Taiwan is being considered for inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waver Program. More than 60 percent of international tourists do not need a U.S. visa, in large part because they travel under the Visa Waiver Program.

Since November 2008, nine countries have been added to the program, which now totals 36 countries. IAEE notes that the addition of Taiwan is an important step for the exhibition industry, especially the manufacturing and IT sectors.  IAEE says the earlier admission of Korea to the program has more than tripled the volume of Korean travelers to the U.S. since March 2001, and that “the addition of Taiwan will have similar results.”

AEM has long supported fast-track visa application procedures to reduce the overly long delays and high visa denials, sometimes seemingly arbitrary, for qualified international industry professionals. It has testified before Congress and held numerous meetings with key Administration officials, including the State Department and Department of Commerce.

“We fully support the need for adequate security procedures but these are established business professionals, and many have told us they just give up trying to attend U.S. shows and take their business to companies outside the U.S.,” stated AEM’s Megan Tanel.

For more information, contact Tanel at, tel: 414-298-411).

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