Originally published by Trade Show Executive September 2017 Edition
In July, I wrote about our advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill during the fourth annual Exhibitions Day. Let me start by emphasizing once again how important advocacy is and why you should get involved. The exhibitions and events industry contributed more than $80 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2016. There are exhibitions in all 50 states and the industry sees more than 33 million attendees at business-to-business shows with 1.35 million exhibiting companies. The exhibitions industry is a force to be reckoned with and through advocacy, we continually beat the drum that exhibitions mean business. Out of the success of Exhibitions Day, Global Exhibitions Day was born and now takes place with more than 75 countries participating in activities to promote the exhibitions industry.
During the 2017 Exhibitions Day on June 6-7 in Washington, D.C., attendees met with U.S. representatives to emphasize the importance of fair and free trade, raise awareness for the economic power of trade shows and discuss specific issues that are directly impacting the industry’s ability to conduct business. These issues included Protecting Brand USA; Rebuilding America’s Airport Infrastructure Act – H.R. 1265; Exhibitions and Meetings Safety and Security Initiative (EMSSI); and Stop Online Booking Scams Act – H.R. 2495 and S. 1164.
On July 18, the House Appropriations Committee passed the FY18 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill, which noted the redirection of Brand USA would not be supported. The bill is currently on the House floor.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a funding boost for the Department of Transportation (DOT) in July, which includes raising the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) from $4.50 to $8.50. The bill will move to the full U.S. House.
The Exhibitions and Meetings Safety and Security Initiative (EMSSI) is in its final iteration with a targeted completion date of early October. Once completed, hundreds of convention centers will be requesting certification from the DHS SAFETY Act Office – a significant undertaking that would require immense time and resources.
Since Exhibitions Day, 20 additional Members of Congress have agreed to co-sponsor H.R. 2495 and S. 1164.
It is important to also note that 2017 attendees told me and staff that these representatives and their office staff remembered our group. This is key because as you know, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Stay tuned this fall for additional efforts by the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign including a post-Exhibitions Day advocacy strategy that includes ways to contact Members of Congress regarding the issues we addressed this past June. Also mark your calendars for the 2018 Exhibitions Day taking place on June 6.
Equally important is the work we do on the state level. In August, the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign exhibited at the National Conference of State Legislatures which saw more than 1,000 staffers from all 50 states. The campaign is heavily involved with destination management organizations (DMOs) when the issue of discriminatory legislation is put forth during state sessions, most recently in Texas.
I will leave you with this final thought. We all have a responsibility to promote the value of face-to-face events. Whether you join me on Capitol Hill each June, have an event focused outside the US for Global Exhibitions Day, or simply post information on social media about exhibitions, it is vital to keep the positive message going that Exhibitions Mean Business! Visit www.exhibitionsmeanbusiness.org for blogs, advocacy toolkits and quarterly campaign reports.
David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO