U.S. borders may be opening to international air travelers at some point in early November, but with the timeline for reopening still up in the air, it remains to be seen if international attendees and exhibitors will be able to make it to IMEX America 2021, the massive trade show for the meetings and events industry.
When the Biden administration announced it would reopen the U.S. to international air travelers from 33 countries — including most European nations, China, India and Brazil — at some yet-unspecified point in early November, many in the meetings industry were left wondering what it might mean for the industry’s largest trade show, IMEX America. Scheduled to be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas Nov. 9–11, the reopening may or may not happen in time for usually large contingent of international attendees and exhibitors, which in 2019, the last time IMEX America was able to convene in person, numbered some 9,000 people from more than 155 countries.
“First of all, we and our global exhibitors and buyers are all very excited by the latest Biden travel announcement; but we are all waiting eagerly for the exact date of reopening,” said Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group. “With the U.S. saying early November, we are obviously hopeful that this will be in time for the show, and we know that we have many buyers and exhibitors waiting to confirm their participation should this be the case.” However, she added, even if the U.S. borders don’t open in time for the show, IMEX America still will have good global representation from buyers and exhibitors who can travel from some countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, as well as those from North America. “But it goes without saying that it will be greater if borders open in time,” she added.
If air travel to the U.S. does open in time, it still will require foreign nationals to provide proof of vaccination before they leave their home countries, though they no longer will be required to quarantine upon arrival. IMEX America 2021 also will require all who cross onto the show floor to be fully vaccinated by one of the WHO-approved vaccinesplus vaccines authorized or approved by the national health authority of the country where it was administered, said Bauer. Negative COVID or positive antibody tests will not suffice.
“We will be using the CLEAR app [for U.S. participants] and SafeExpo [for international participants] to assist with vaccine verification and these will be accessible during October.” Booster shots, which are just now becoming available for some U.S. populations, will not be required. Masking requirements for the show will follow local guidance, which currently mandates face coverings at all indoor venues in Las Vegas. Because requirements continue to be in flux, Bauer suggested checking the show’s regularly updated health and safety protocols before heading to Vegas.
Bauer adds that there will be much to see and do as IMEX America comes back after a year’s hiatus.
“The show floor is looking full and healthy, with most of our global destinations represented, as well as all of the major hotel groups, a significantly increased event tech presence, as well as our signature education areas at the Inspiration Hub that will host over 150 sessions,” she said. “New this year, the press center will be on the show floor, as well as a new broadcast studio – broadcasting dedicated content direct into our BuzzHub platform on the Tuesday and Wednesday of the show.
“We are also excited about our new IMEX|EIC People and Planet Village that brings together our traditional focus on Sustainability with diversity, social impact and giving back,” she said. “Finally, we have a lovely choice of seating areas, wider aisles, great food options and a nature theme running throughout the show floor.”