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Short Takes: News from the International Trade Administration

Travel and Tourism Board Outlines Steps to Aid Industry Recovery

Detailed policy recommendations designed to stem the recent downturn in the travel and tourism industry were outlined in a letter of recommendation sent on September 16 to Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke by the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.

“The economic health of the travel and tourism industry is vital to the economic health of our nation,” said the board in its letter, “[but] the outlook for our industry remains cloudy.”

The board outlined a series of steps that the administration should be prepared to take in three broad areas: airport congestion and infrastructure, economic sustainability, and travel facilitation. The specific policies it recommended include accelerated implementation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen system for airports, support for the industry’s “Meetings Mean Business” campaign, incentives in support of industry initiatives that reduce carbon dioxide emissions (such as equipping more vehicles with flexible fuel converters and creating incentives in proposed cap-and-trade legislation for the airline industry), continued efforts to facilitate air travel (such as expansion of the Visa Waiver Program), and improved education and prevention plans for handling outbreaks of the H1N1 virus.

The U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board serves as the advisory body to the secretary of commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States. It consists of up to 15 members from companies and organizations in the travel and tourism industry, representing a broad range of products and services, company sizes, and geographic locations. The board was originally chartered in 2003, and the current board’s charter expired at the end of September. Applicants for the new board are currently being considered, and it is expected that a new Travel and Tourism Advisory Board will be named shortly.

For more information on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, or to read the full text of the September 16 letter, visit their Web site.

 

Afghan Products Highlighted at Industry Shows

Afghan rugs and crafts were on display at the New York International Carpet Show on September 20–22 thanks to the assistance of the Department of Commerce’s Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force, the government of Afghanistan, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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Afghan rugs and crafts were on display recently at a trade show in New York, with the help of the Department of Commerce’s Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force. The exhibit was part of an effort to help rebuild Afghanistan’s economy. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

Afghan rugs and crafts were on display recently at a trade show in New York, with the help of the Department of Commerce’s Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force. The exhibit was part of an effort to help rebuild Afghanistan’s economy. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

 

Two Commerce Department employees, Noor Alam of the Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force and Mary-Lynn Landgraf of the Office of Textiles and Apparel, hosted a special exhibit, “Afghan Allure,” at the New York International Carpet Show. The exhibit was designed to promote business opportunities in the Afghan rug sector and included samples of Afghan rugs, jewelry, lapis bowls, tapestry, and fashion design.

The production of Afghan rugs provides income to millions of Afghan women and men and supports the agricultural sector of Afghanistan. But after decades of war and destruction of infrastructure, the presence of the “Made in Afghanistan” label in the world market has significantly diminished. The industry is in need of revitalization and reinvestment in its production supply chain, especially in the finishing facilities, where most value-added components exist.

Since 2006, the Department of Commerce has worked with Afghan rug manufacturers to overcome the obstacles they face by involving multiple, complementing U.S. government agencies in efforts to enhance the rug production chain, particularly through the “Sheep to Shop” initiative led by the Department of Commerce.

The next stop for the “Afghan Allure” exhibit will be at Design Trends Seattle from October 14–15. The show will feature a lecture by National Geographic archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert, who assembled the show “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul.”

For more information on Afghan rugs or the Afghan Allure exhibit, contact Noor Alam at (202) 482-1421 or visit the Web site of the Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force, www.trade.gov/afghanistan.

 

Application Period Open for International Buyer Program

The U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) is accepting applications from companies wishing to participate in its International Buyer Program for domestic trade events taking place between January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2011. The deadline for applying is October 27.

The International Buyer Program was established to bring together international buyers and U.S. firms by promoting leading U.S. trade shows in industries with high export potential. The program emphasizes cooperation between the Department of Commerce and trade show organizers to benefit U.S. firms exhibiting at selected events. It provides practical, hands-on assistance, such as export counseling and market analysis to U.S. companies interested in exporting. It also benefits trade show organizers by providing worldwide promotion of their shows to potential international buyers, end-users, representatives, and distributors through more than 70 overseas USFCS posts, as well as through U.S. embassies in countries where the USFCS does not maintain an office.

“We expect to select approximately 35 events,” notes Blanche Ziv, the director of the International Buyer Program. “The Commercial Service will be selecting events that are determined to most meet its statutory mandate to promote U.S. exports, particularly those of small and medium-sized firms.”

Trade shows that are first-time events or are not industry specific generally are not eligible to participate. There is a sliding scale of participation fees for selected events, from $8,000 to $19,500, depending on the length and size of the event.

Full details on how to apply for the International Buyer Program are contained in a Federal Register notice on the Web at www.export.gov/IBP. For additional information, contact Blanche Ziv, tel.: (202) 482-4207; e-mail: blanche.ziv@mail.doc.gov.

 

Contributors to this section include Blanche Ziv of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, Noor Alam of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Task Force, Marc Chittum of the International Trade Administration’s Manufacturing and Services unit, and Mary-Lynn Landgraf of the Import Administration’s Office of Textiles and Apparel.