Meetings Take Hit Due to Visa Snags
Companies Relocate Events Overseas to Avoid Long Waits and Delays
A new survey finds a significant number of U.S.
meetings and trade shows have been forced to relocate overseas due
to the difficulties encountered by foreign attendees trying to
attain visas to enter the United States.
The report, released in June by the Santangelo Group, a
Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm, was commissioned by a
consortium of eight organizations, including the National Foreign
Trade Council and the U.S.-China Business Council, to address
concerns about the effects of post-9/11 visa policies on
Of the 141 companies responding to the survey, “Many said they
had set up meetings abroad to avoid the problem of meeting in the
United States,” said Charles Santangelo, president of the research
firm, which is made up of former government officials and Fortune
For example, Amway Korea canceled an 8,000-person convention to
be held in the States earlier this year due to difficulty in
obtaining attendee visas. The group estimated its convention
business was worth about $15 million.
Indeed, 18 percent of respondents cited the forced relocation of
trade shows, expositions and contract talks as their biggest issue,
Countries whose citizens experienced the greatest difficulty in
acquiring visas included China, India, Indonesia and Russia. The
snags cost U.S. businesses $30 billion in lost revenues between
July 2002 and March of this year, said the report.
In one instance, Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola said a $10
million contract to supply two-way radios to the Vietnamese
government was in peril because of the delay in issuing visas to
“Our companies have expressed frustration to Congress on this
issue for nearly two years, to no avail,” said Bill Reinsch,
president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Trade Council.
“Now that we have measured the costs, the results are clear.”
The most cited visa problems included excessively long waiting
times to receive an interview and arbitrary visa denials.