CHICAGO — The Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA) announced its 2023 Public Policy Agenda, identifying four key areas of focus for the upcoming year.
In 2023, ECA will focus on welcoming international visitors back to the U.S. to attend and exhibit at trade shows, support industry efforts to address sustainability, help ensure a favorable operating environment and promote government involvement in developing the future workforce.
In order to accomplish the priorities in the key focus areas, ECA’s Board of Directors identified the top issues for 2023: prevent anti-growth state-level taxation of the trade show industry, bring back communicable disease coverage to event cancelation insurance, restore visa operations to pre-pandemic levels while making the process more modern and efficient, encourage decarbonization efforts by governments that balance sustainability and industry feasibility, and support government policies and programs that develop and retain the next generation in the work force.
“The trade show industry’s ongoing recovery is all the more impressive when you consider the headwinds impacting the industry, from supply chain challenges and historic inflation to evolving COVID-related policies and the lack of communicable disease coverage in event cancelation insurance,” ECA Vice President, Government Affairs Tommy Goodwin said. “In 2023, ECA will advocate for policies that try to smooth the path for our ongoing rebound including making sure states don’t adopt recovery-killing taxes on the industry and its stakeholders, supporting efforts to establish a public-private partnership that brings back communicable disease coverage to event cancelation insurance, ensuring a welcoming environment for our events in cities and states nationwide and more.”
Currently ECA, along with SISO and Louisville Tourism, are voicing opposition to the new 6% tax on rental space for meetings and conventions in Kentucky that started Jan. 1, 2023, which aligns with the ECA 2023 public policy agenda to prevent taxes at the state level on the trade show industry.
“At this time, the industry is looking to the Kentucky Department of Revenue to provide clarification on several questions related to the new tax,” Goodwin said. “Additionally, ECA is strongly encouraging the Kentucky legislature to address the industry’s concerns as part of its 2023 legislative session.”
“We are working closely with new and existing clients to document and share information regarding the change with policymakers,” Kentucky Venues Spokesperson Ian Cox said. “Our operations will be in compliance. Kentucky remains a cost-effective place to do business and we are continuing to discuss with each client their specific needs and expectations to help grow their event.”
The issue of visa wait times, which was a key focus during the Legislative Action Week in June 2022, remains an issue in 2023, and was identified as a top concern for the new year.
ECA endorses the five visa-related recommendations from more than 50 bipartisan members of Congress including prioritizing resources to key markets, lower wait times to 10-15 days in the top countries for inbound U.S. travelers, develop videoconferencing interview pilot for low-risk applicants, allow certain visa holders in the U.S. to renew without leaving the country first and introduce group appointments for applicants looking to come to the U.S. for large exhibitions and events.
“ECA will continue to actively work alongside industry leaders and advocates on the issues that matter for the industry in 2023, including preventing anti-growth state-level taxation of our industry and restoring visa operations to pre-pandemic levels,” Goodwin said. “This will include the in-person return of ECA’s Legislative Action Day in 2023.”