Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB), city officials, and leaders of Houston’s energy and economic development industries traveled to Beijing tomake a final pitch to host the 2014World Petroleum Congress (WPC). It was the culmination of a six-month effort to nab the prestigious event, which brings together heads of state, global oil and gas executives, thousands of attendees, and hundreds of exhibitors.WPC would result in $12 million in local economic impact and about 41,000 roomnights,according to Jorge Franz,GHCVB’s vice president of tourism and international group sales.
Houston edged out Bogota, Colombia, in the first round of
voting. But in the end, the prize went to Moscow, which bested Houston by just four votes. The voting delegates were concerned, Franz was told, that international attendees—particularly the manywhowould be coming fromthe Middle East—might face difficulties in obtaining visas for travel to the United States, and that is why Moscow got the nod.
In the coming years, compound annual growth in business-travel spending in the BRIC countries is projected to be two to three times higher than in developed economies like the United States and Germany.
Coming to America Houston’s failed bid is an example often cited by travel and tourismprofessionals who are frustrated with U.S. visa policies and the country’s climate for international meeting attendees —which, they say, represents a fraction of the lost economic opportunity that’s resulting from the perception of the United States as an unwelcoming destination for global business trav- elers. Specifically, critics point to long wait times for visas in coun- tries like Brazil and China, two of the fastest-growing travel markets, and a laborious—some say degrading—application process that requires applicants to prove they have no emigra- tion plans. Indeed, capturing the travel dollars of the BRIC countries—
Brazil, Russia, India, and China—is especially vital for interna- tional meetings and conventions, as the “big four” are near-burst- ing with advanced economic development. In the coming years, compoundannual growthin business-travel spending in theBRIC countries is projected tobe twotothree times higher than in devel- oped economies like the United States and Germany, according to a report from the Global Business Travel Association. Precluding international attendees from traveling to the United