ECA Rings in 2024 With New Public Policy Agenda

January 8, 2024

The Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA), a coalition of professional, industry and labor associations comprising the unified advocacy voice of the business events industry, has unveiled its public policy agenda for 2024.

ECA’s alliance partners and board of directors have identified five key areas of focus for the year ahead, including: 

  1. Ensuring a favorable industry operating environment
  2. Growing seamless international travel and commerce
  3. Creating a welcoming environment for the industry in states and cities nationwide
  4. Championing industry-led decarbonization efforts
  5. Developing the industry’s future workforce 

“In 2024, ECA will be laser-focused on advocating for policies to uphold the role of the business events industry in propelling economic growth, fostering job creation and empowering small businesses nationwide and globally,” said Hervé Sedky, president and CEO of Emerald and chair of the ECA board of directors. 

Top priorities in 2024

As part of ECA’s 2024 public policy agenda, the following six issues have been highlighted as top priorities for the coming year: 

  1. Restoring visa operations to pre-pandemic levels while modernizing visa processing
  2. Supporting government policies to help attract and train the industry’s next generation workforce
  3. Bringing back communicable disease coverage to event cancellation insurance
  4. Increasing music licensing transparency and stopping anti-competitive behavior by rights holders
  5. Promoting industry-led sustainability and decarbonization efforts that ensure the industry remains in control of its path to Net Zero
  6. Amplifying efforts to raise awareness of the business events industry to its future talent pool

ECA will also support the efforts of its alliance partners and others throughout the industry to raise awareness of the business events sector to attract its future workforce.

“From ensuring that all international exhibitors and attendees can return to exhibitions and conferences in the U.S. to supporting public sector involvement in developing the industry’s next generation workforce, ECA will be actively engaged in Washington, DC and beyond on the issues that matter for the industry in 2024,” said Vinnie Polito, CEO of the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and ECA co-president.

Looking back 

This year, ECA will work to build upon many 2023 successes for the industry on Capitol Hill and in state houses and city halls nationwide, including: 

  • Overturning Kentucky’s tax on exhibition and conference exhibitors and sponsors
  • Repealing California’s state-funded travel ban
  • Securing a longer transition period for the industry as part of California’s draft zero-emission forklift rule
  • Amending Chicago’s new paid-leave law to exclude business events visitors
  • Introducing and advancing legislation in Congress to expand skills-based training and development opportunities for future workers
  • Testifying in support of a proposed Federal Trade Commission rule to stop email list sale and hotel reservation scammers
  • Supporting passage of House of Representatives appropriations legislation that would provide additional funding to help alleviate visa processing backlogs
  • Reducing visa wait times at U.S. embassies and consulates in India by 60% and Brazil by 77%
  • Joining a coalition amici brief in an appeals court case to help keep music licensing rates reasonable

“ECA has had a very successful 2023, but its work on behalf of our industry is just beginning,” said Marsha Flanagan, president and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and ECA co-president. “In the weeks and months ahead, ECA will continue to amplify the advocacy voice of the business events industry including show organizers, exhibitors, suppliers, venues and hard-working men and women that deliver powerful events every day from coast to coast.”

What’s next

Throughout 2024, ECA will also be introducing new advocacy capabilities that will allow industry leaders and advocates to share their stories and make their voices heard in the political and policymaking processes, according to ECA Vice President Tommy Goodwin. 

“The business events industry has the best and most passionate advocates around, hands down!” Goodwin said. “In 2024, ECA is going ‘all in’ to give them the opportunity to make sure that elected officials hear them loud and clear, whether that’s in Washington, DC, on ECA Legislative Action Day or on the show floor in their local communities year-round.”


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Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact