CEA’s Gary Shapiro Takes International Travel Message to Huffington Post

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Arlington, VA – Gary Shapiro, president & CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), took the case for business travel and exhibitions to a national audience with a column in the widely-read Huffington Post.

The posting appeared online October 6 and drove home many of the points Shapiro made September 24 at the Trade Show Executive Gold 100 Summit when he called on the Federal government to make it easier for overseas travelers to enter the United States.

“We make our show a world-class event (we were recognized last month by Trade Show Executive as the nation’s ‘Most Global Event’), but our nation’s visa policies work against us in attracting the world to our country,” he wrote.

Shapiro said the “shabby treatment of international guests” costs the United States billions of dollars of lost business annually, including exhibition customers who skip U.S. shows in favor of events in countries that are easier to enter. “For a respected and busy Chinese businessman, this is more than an annoying process – it is easier to simply go to our competitor show in Germany,” he said. “The American embassy staff is hard working and well intentioned but forced to follow arcane and harmful laws.”

The Obama administration, Shapiro said, should take steps to accommodate foreign business travelers while still maintaining security. The changes would be part of a new emphasis on supporting U.S. trade shows as a market for American-made exports. That emphasis would include easing restrictions on U.S. elected officials attending trade shows and other industry events.

“President Obama has the ability to change the tone and extend the welcome mat to international visitors,” Shapiro said. “I urge him to make a high-visibility appearance at a Las Vegas or Orlando trade show (Mr. President, please consider this an invitation to participate in the International CES in January 2010).”

Reach Gary Shapiro at (703) or gshapiro@ce.org