Sales for 2018 Expo have begun

The highlight of the winter is just around the corner as the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association is actively preparing for the 44th Annual Ocean City Spring Trade Expo — March 4-5, 2018. Coined, “coming out of winter hibernation” by one long-time exhibitor, this Expo is a long-standing tradition. As the producer of the largest Mid-Atlantic trade Expo, the OCHMRA’s goal is to connect hospitality industry buyers and sellers. With the industry being time-starved, the Expo provides the perfect opportunity to do one-stop shopping at nearly 400 exhibits.
Exhibitors are eager to showcase new and innovative products and provide samples of their latest product lines. Many exhibitors feature show specials which offer steep discounts.
The Expo features three exhibit halls, two of which are waterfront. Attendees come from as far north as Wilmington, across the Bay Bridge, and south to the eastern shore of Virginia. The Expo is open only to hospitality professionals. To attend, guests must be in the lodging or dining business, a liquor store, convenience store, cafeteria, nursing home, hospital, or school, etc. Exhibit booths range from $350-$705 and are the most affordable in the industry. The goal isn’t to make huge profits but to bring together industry buyers and sellers.
For more information, check out or call Susan or Liz at 410-289-6733.

J1 Summer Work Travel Program under attack
The Association is growing increasingly concerned about the J1 visa situation. During the spring, an Executive Order entitled “Buy American, Hire American” was signed by the Trump Administration. The order was designed to strengthen protections for certain American-made goods and calls for a review of certain legal visa work programs. Initially, the H-1B visas garnered the most attention from the Administration. However, the J1 Visa has become the most recent visa program to draw the wrath of the Administration. An August 27 Wall Street Journal article stated that the Administration is considering taking action to reduce or eliminate five J1 visa programs: Summer Work Travel, Intern, Trainee, Camp Counselor, and Au Pair. There are 4,000 seasonal employees in OC which fall under the J1 Summer Work Travel portion of the visa. This allows foreign students to spend up to four months living and working temporary jobs in the U.S.
Of course, the political dynamics surrounding the issue are challenging, but it is clear that the Administration intends to make substantial reforms to the program. The American Hotel & Lodging Association has been working with Americans for Cultural Exchange to lobby both the Administration and the Congress to limit the impact of the rumored changes to the J1 program.
Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Delegate Andy Harris have all signed on with other politicians to urge the Administration to keep the J1 program in place.
We urge you to visit Americans for Cultural Exchange website ( and utilize its action alert area to share your story on the importance of J1 visas for your business. Senator Cardin says it is best to put a “face to the story” by describing the impact the J1 exchange programs have had “on your life, business, and family.” As an example, Dough Roller Restaurants and Breakers Hotel owner Bill Gibbs wrote about the cultural night he created for his J1 students. “Our (J1) employees celebrate the Fourth of July with us by dressing up and watching the fireworks at night; some have gone to Ravens football games with my family.” Members are also encouraged to call or write the White House and their representatives about this issue.

SUSAN JONES is the executive director of the Ocean City Hotel Motel Restaurant Association.

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