Posted by: Konstantin Dubrovsky, Vice Consul of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine
Recently, my colleagues and I were fortunate enough to be invited to participate in the 17th annual Ukraine International Travel & Tourism (UITT) exhibition. This is the largest travel industry event in Ukraine. Representatives from all over the world come to the UITT exhibition to network, meet potential clients, and develop new international channels to increase the volume of tourism and investment in their respective countries.
This year the UITT exhibition was held in the International Exhibition Center from March 23 -25. The exhibition did not disappoint; representatives from more than 50 countries greeted visitors with their colorful booths, folk costumes, songs, and sometimes even samples of their national cuisine.
On the second day of the exhibition, the American Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) organized a seminar called “Discover America,” and invited me to do a presentation on applying for visas to visit the U.S. The audience consisted mostly of travel agents and others working in the tourism business. After FCS gave an excellent presentation on expanding one’s business to America, I gave a brief presentation covering the basics of the visa application process. The question and answer session that followed was informative for me as well as for those asking the questions. The audience’s level of understanding of U.S. visa laws was reflected in the sophistication of their questions. These were serious business people who share our interests, namely: facilitating legitimate travel to the U.S. I hope that the audience learned from me as much as I learned from them.
My colleagues and I got a chance to actually staff the FCS booth and answer people’s questions on the third and final day of the exhibition. We were happy to see that so many visitors stopped by to talk to us. People had questions about cultural and educational programs, studying and working the in US, and, of course, many general visa-related questions. Some just stopped by to introduce themselves and share their positive experiences in America. The people who visited with us were everyday people, aspiring Fulbright Scholars, travel agents, business investors, future students, and even Americans who made the long journey to Kyiv hoping to attract Ukrainian tourists to the U.S. Judging from the reception we received at the UITT, it’s safe to say that interest in traveling to the U.S. has not decreased one bit.
Participating in this year’s UITT exhibition was an amazing experience. Aside from meeting many interesting people and spending a day with my colleagues, it certainly gave me new vacation ideas!