Attracting International Attendees is Getting Easier
By Carolyn Clark, Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Professional Convention Management Association
The White House released a new travel and tourism progress report last week to highlight efforts to increase the nation’s ability to attract visitors from around the world. Planners are all too familiar with the challenges of paperwork and application fees for welcoming international attendees, and the report highlights some statistics that will give the meeting community reason to celebrate.
In the Spotlight: China and Brazil
While the newly released figures showcase successes in a range of areas, a portion of the report focuses on two countries that represent big opportunities for meetings and conventions. From the industry’s exponential growth in China to a continuing thirst for knowledge in Brazil, it’s clear that these two countries will be major players in the meeting market. Fortunately for planners, it looks like welcoming attendees from these countries is getting much easier.
- A quickening paper trail: In China, the average wait time from visa application to interview is down to five days while consular officers in Brazil have reduced wait times by 98 percent. In Sao Paulo, applicants are typically interviewed within two days.
- A growing staff: The State Department plans to add 50 more visa adjudicator positions in China and 60 in Brazil by the end of this year.
- An increasing office presence: The State Department plans to open two new consulate buildings in China and two in Brazil by the end of 2014. Compared with 2011, these additional resources represent an increase in visa processing ability by 140 percent in Brazil and 120 percent in China.
“The increase in efficiencies for approving guests from China and Brazil is great news for the future of our industry,” says Sherrif Karamat, Chief Operating Officer, PCMA. “The meeting community continues to expand into new markets, and America’s efforts to simplify travel requirements and logistics clearly benefits everyone involved.”
Contribute Your Voice to the Conversation
In addition to hard data figures, the report included a new subjective element to the President’s tourism agenda: a Listening Tour. Cabinet officials and members of the Obama Administration are planning to hit the road for personal conversations with state and local officials, small business owners and key stakeholder organizations. There is no word on when the tour officially begins, but this may represent an opportunity for planners like you to offer your first-hand perspective on how the government can help make your job more efficient and your meetings more successful.
If you have the chance to chat with Cabinet officials and members from the Obama administration, what would you want to discuss? What are the biggest issues facing your organization as you work to appeal to an international audience? Even if you aren’t included in the Listening Tour, we at PCMA want to know how we can help address your challenges.
Read a full summary of the White House report here.