North America

Time for US to improve access for international tradeshow visitors

With 2024 already in full contact mode, I have three differing data points around international attendance to events to discuss, particularly with a focus on international travel to the US.

Global tech event CES had a very successful show with an expected attendance of over 130,000, which was expected to include 150+ countries, territories and regions participating (audited figures not available at time of writing).

I just attended CCPIT’s (The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade) CEFCO event of which SISO serves as a co-host.

A US Travel commissioned study focused on leading travel markets and global competitiveness.


By its own description, CES is the most powerful tech event in the world and it showcases the entire tech landscape at one event. While this is not the place to detail every automotive or healthcare technology advance (and there were many), it is important to note that CES had significant international participation.

CES’s global reputation makes it a highly recognised and desired destination for international travellers to come to the US. As a participant in the US Department of Commerce’s Trade Event Partnership Program, I know there is a concerted effort to bring international delegations to the event. This success was in spite of the fact that the visa backlog funding is still unresolved and wait times in both Mexico and India remain at unacceptable levels, to name just two countries.

The 19th China Expo Forum for International Co-operation

CCPIT, which can be considered the China Chamber of International Commerce, produces an annual event designed to encourage and stimulate co-operation between China and other nations in the area of conferences and tradeshows. While this is not the place to discuss initiatives or outcomes, I want to point out the ease of obtaining a 10-year Visa to visit China. With no expedited handling, and no hand holding, I was able to gain my visa by simply following an online form and a visit to the Consulate. Which reminded me of countries where trusted travellers can obtain visas or 5-day visa waivers at airports for certain countries.

US travel study

This week, US travel issued a release titled ‘Stunning New Research Ranks United States Nearly Dead Last in Competition for Global Travelers’.

Both the summary report and the full report are available on the US Travel website. If interested I would encourage you to review the report.

The conclusion from these data points is the following: we are at a tipping point regarding international tradeshow participation globally. While world renowned shows will garner international attendees to the US, without significant investment by organisers and assistance from the US government to treat travel with the same importance as other nations, then international attendance and commerce will leave the US for other markets that are interested in attracting visitors with money to spend. EW


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