- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2003

The Bush administration has chosen five countries — Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany — as the focus of its new international tourism promotional campaign.

The targeted countries were named last week at the first meeting of the newly formed U.S. Travel and Tourism Promotional Advisory Board, which reports directly to Commerce Secretary Don Evans. It is administered by the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The 15-member board was formed in August to make a unified push to bring more international travelers to the United States.

“The travel and tourism industry greatly suffered an economic impact from the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” Mr. Evans said in a statement. “As the campaign gets under way, I look forward to seeing an increase in visitors from these key markets and other countries, which will provide a needed boost to the U.S. travel and tourism industry and added security for the many Americans who rely on this industry for jobs.”

The industry is responsible for about 17 million direct and indirect travel-related jobs in the country and is the fourth largest export for the U.S. economy. In 2002, travel and tourism to the United States generated $84 billion in exports.

The campaign will focus on the five key markets because those countries have historically sent the most travelers to the United States. Last year they represented 75 percent of international travelers to the United States.

Earlier this year, President Bush approved a $50 million appropriation to create an international travel and tourism marketing and promotional campaign, which will include market and evaluation research, consumer and trade advertising and other promotional efforts.

The advisory board, made up of the industry’s top executives, including J.W. Marriott Jr., chairman and chief executive of Bethesda’s Marriott International Inc., plans to issue a request for proposal for an ad agency to handle the campaign by late October. Responses will be due 30 days after the RFP is issued and a decision will be made shortly thereafter. The goal is to have the campaign ready to run in each market by 2004.

Retail Rummage

• Chico’s FAS Inc. completed its $90 million acquisition of the White House Inc., a Baltimore-based retail chain, earlier this month. The White House, which sells private-label women’s clothing under the White House | Black Market label, has 107 stores.

• Save-A-Lot has opened a new store in District Heights at the Penn Station Shopping Center. The discount grocery chain, which sells both national brand items and exclusive label products, has three other locations in Bladensburg, Hyattsville and Oxon Hill, Md.

In other news

• Austin Grill has expanded to FedEx Field. The Tex-Mex restaurant and bar is now open on the club level of the Washington Redskins’ stadium during regular season games. The location, which has 30 employees, offers a full-service, buffet-style menu for $22 per person beginning two hours before the game and ending two hours after the game. Austin Grill has six other locations in the Washington area.

Got news? Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884.

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