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ANNOUNCEMENT OF FEDERAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITY
FULL ANNOUNCEMENT TEXT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Funding Opportunity Description
A. Program Objectives and Description
Through this cooperative agreement opportunity, ITA is soliciting applications from organizations to research, develop, implement, and market an international travel and tourism consumer website (or enhancement to an existing site) for the United States. The overall objective of the website is to represent the United States as a travel and tourism destination for the purposes of increasing awareness, positive perception, and intent to travel to the United States from five identified markets. The five markets represent the largest originating countries for inbound international travelers to the United States and include the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Germany.
The principal strategy of the program is to design and implement a website, based on primary and secondary consumer research, that provides content and information on the United States as a premier destination to international inbound travelers from the five key markets. It is envisioned that the website will be the benchmark U.S. travel and tourism information portal for international travelers to the United States. The website will encompass information on all components of the U.S. travel and tourism industry. This will include, but is not limited to, destinations, attractions, natural resources, dining and lodging facilities, and transportation companies.
The website will provide accurate and timely information regarding the United States as a travel and tourism destination and deliver a coordinated message that communicates the diversity of the American travel product. It will reflect the brand value of the United States, as determined through consumer market research in the target markets, and benefit all regions of the country. From a technical perspective, the website will be able to accommodate millions of unique visitors per month. It must be capable of managing extremely high levels of user traffic without disruption to its speed or functionality. The website will not include a booking engine at this time, but should be sufficiently flexible to move toward booking functionality in the future.
The awarded total will be approximately $3,600,000 to be dispersed over a two-year award period. It is a requisite that the recipient match at least 25 percent of the awarded total. Applicants must verify and demonstrate in their applications that matching funds are available during the time period of the agreement as matching funds are required to complete the project. Matching funds must be provided by either the applicant or by a third party in the form of cash or in-kind contributions and they must be spent on eligible expenses and are required to be from eligible sources.
Funding provided by the ITA cooperative agreement is intended to serve the four distinct functions of research, development, implementation, and marketing. Prior to the implementation of the website, the recipient will use funding to conduct consumer market research on the site’s international target audience. This will provide insight into the Internet usage habits of the website’s identified consumers, such as technical and cultural factors. Through initial market research, the recipient will familiarize itself with consumer demographics and psychographics in the identified international target markets. This will ensure that the website meets the travel and tourism informational needs of potential travelers to the United States.
ITA will assist by providing copies of initial market research it conducted for a promotional campaign in the United Kingdom and Japan. Additionally, ITA will supply assistance in the design and execution of research including, but not limited to: providing technical consultation in the design and execution of the research; participating in the analysis of research data and the interpretation of research findings. This will supplement, not replace, the requirement to conduct independent market research in the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Germany.
The cooperative agreement will fund the design and implementation of the website, which will be directed by the desire for an interactive interface with specific key functions. These include, but are not limited to: a content and graphic management solution; easy navigation and user experience focus; double opt-in marketing database functionality; mapping functionality; fully functional and searchable multi-language capability (initially in English, Spanish, German, French, and Japanese); currency calculators; weather information; and calendars of events.
In addition, the website will have an informational content component to provide users with accurate and timely information on documentation requirements for travel to the United States. It will also feature other “know before you go” or other pertinent information that would ease and/or facilitate travel to the United States. This will include, but is not limited to, information on visa requirements, entry/exit procedures, and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). The applicant will provide a comprehensive plan for its intended approach to update the website on a frequent and consistent basis to reflect important changes in procedures and policies that impact international inbound travelers to the United States. The plan should include the methodology that will be used for obtaining the information.
Following the development of the website based on extensive research of the identified international target markets, the recipient will use awarded funds for marketing purposes. A marketing plan will be created and executed to create awareness of the website and induce visitation by consumers in each of the targeted international markets.
The recipient will devise a metrics program to measure the effectiveness of the marketing effort. This will be accomplished through items such as the following: counting the number of unique visits to the website; monitoring the parts of the site being visited; noting websites linked from the site; tracking the websites visitors enter from; and utilizing Internet-based survey tools to determine user friendliness, content, and functionality.
The data provided by the metrics system should provide the level of detail to sufficiently understand how effectively the website performs or where to make modifications to improve performance. For example: behavioral pop-up ads with a comparison to travel and tourism industry norms (with notation for mitigating factors); co-registration and e-postcard results (with notation for mitigating factors); cooperative advertising with detail on traffic sent to each cooperative sponsor site and marketing return on investment (ROI) for the sponsor. All data collected through the metrics system should include performance analysis and insight, which will assist in making adjustments to the website, if appropriate.
Throughout the specified cooperative agreement period, the recipient will be required to maintain contact with ITA and the Program Manager on the progress of the website’s research, development, implementation, and marketing. ITA and the recipient will maintain a working relationship for the specified period. The recipient will keep the Department informed on items such as the results from initial market research for the website, the preliminary design and content for the site, the web address selected for the site, and the marketing plan.
The Department will have the opportunity to provide feedback and review at all stages of the research, development, implementation, and marketing process. This will ensure the website shall not conflict with the policies set forth by the National Tourism Policy for the United States. The Department, in cooperation with the private sector-led Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, is currently finalizing a strategy to serve as the foundation for the Policy.
Because the funding provided by the cooperative agreement is for a specified period of time only, each applicant will include a detailed plan to maintain the website once federal monies are no longer available. Cooperative marketing partnerships are encouraged as one means by which to generate the resources needed to sustain the website once the cooperative agreement period expires, as well as during the cooperative agreement period.
B. Program Priorities
The goal of the ITA U.S. Destination Website Research, Development, Implementation, and Marketing Cooperative Agreement is to identify an organization to receive monies for the purposes of research, development, implementation, and marketing of the premier international travel and tourism consumer website for the United States. The overall objective of the website is to represent the United States as a travel and tourism destination for the purposes of increasing awareness, positive perception, and intent to travel to the United States from five identified markets.
The website will increase awareness of the United States as a destination in the global travel and tourism market and reduce hesitance to travel to the country. It will create the impression of a welcoming experience by offering trip/mapping capabilities and suggested itineraries for visitors.
ITA encourages proposals from organizations with the capability and resources necessary to effectively research, develop, implement, and market a U.S. travel and tourism website to international target markets. Furthermore, ITA encourages proposals from organizations that can expand the benefit to other industries that directly benefit from increased travel to the United States, such as retail, sports, and entertainment.
C. Program Authority
The authority for the United States Destination Website Development, Implementation, and Marketing is Section 210 of Public Law 108-7 and Public Law 109-108.
II. Award Information
A. Funding Availability
In fiscal year 2007, approximately $3,600,000 will be available for the cooperative agreement for a two-year award period. ITA envisions one award.
B. Type of Funding Instrument
Cooperative Agreement. ITA will be substantially involved in the project as described in Section I above.
C. Project and Award Periods
The award period will be two years.
III. Eligibility Information
A. Eligible Applicants
Eligible applicants for the program include all for-profit or non-profit U.S. corporations, associations, organizations, and Native American Tribal Governments (Federally recognized) and state and local Governments.
B. Cost Share/Matching Requirements
The amount of Federal funds awarded for this cooperative agreement will be approximately $3,600,000 to be disbursed over a two-year period. It is a requisite that the grantee match at least 25% of the awarded Federal funds. The total of the awarded Federal funds plus the amount of the grantee’s match will be the project cost. The cost share must be provided by either the applicant or by a third party in the form of cash or in-kind contributions and they must be spent on eligible expenses and are required to be from eligible sources. Applicants must verify and demonstrate in their applications that matching funds are available during the time period of the agreement as the matching funds are required to complete the project.
IV. Application and Submission Information
A. Address to Request Application Package
The full funding announcement and application forms can be found at http://www.grants.gov. For addresses and telephone numbers to request application forms from ITA officials, see section VII.A.
B. Content and Form Application Process
Applications submitted in response to this announcement may be submitted through the Grants.gov website. Alternatively, applications may be submitted by mail or hand delivery per the detailed instructions below. Electronic access to the full funding announcement and application materials for this program is available via the Grants.gov web site: http://www.grants.gov. This announcement will also be available by contacting the Program Officials identified below.
Paper submission – if mailed: Because regular mail is subject to radiation upon receipt by the Department, it is recommended that mailed paper submissions be couriered by FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc. If the application is mailed/shipped overnight by the applicant or its representative, one (1) signed original and two (2) copies of the application must be submitted. Completed application packages must be mailed to: Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce; 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 1003, Washington, DC 20230 (Attn: Julie Heizer or Brian Beall).
Paper submission – if hand-delivered: If the application is hand-delivered by the applicant or his/her representative, one (1) signed original and two (2) copies of the application must be delivered to U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, HCHB, Entrance 10, 15th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. (between Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues). The Department’s hand-delivery policies state that organizations such as FedEx, UPS, and DHL overnight services submitted to the address listed above (Entrance 10) cannot be accepted. These policies should be taken into consideration when utilizing their services. ITA will not accept applications that are submitted by the deadline but rejected due to Departmental hand-delivery policies. The applicant must adhere to these policies in order for the application to receive consideration for award.
Proposals are accepted on a continuing basis and are processed as received. Applications must be received by 4:00 PM eastern daylight savings time on November 14, 2006. Those applications received after the closing date and time will not be considered. ITA recommends that applicants not wait until the application deadline date to begin the application process through http://www.grants.gov.
C. Content and Format of Application Submission
Each application must include, at a minimum, the following elements. Failure to comply with the prescribed format as outlined will result in an application not being reviewed.
V. Proposal Review Information
A. Evaluation and Selection Procedures
After receiving the applications, ITA will screen each one to determine the applicant’s eligibility to receive an award. A review panel composed of at least three (3) Government and (a) travel and tourism industry representative(s) will review the applications applying the Evaluation Criteria below, score them, and forward a ranking to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services (DAS). There will be no consensus advice provided by the evaluation panel. From the ranked applications forwarded by the evaluation panel, the DAS selects the application that will receive funding. In making her decision, the DAS will consider the review panel’s evaluations and take into consideration the review panel’s ranking. The DAS may deviate from the evaluation panel’s ranked recommendation only based on the following factors: (1) Funding Priorities (see below) and (2) the availability of funds.
B. Evaluation Criteria
ITA is interested in projects that demonstrate the possibility of both significant results during the award period and lasting benefits extending beyond the award period. All eligible and complete applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria and maximum point allowances. Failure to address any one of the following criteria by the application deadline will result in an application being determined incomplete and the application will not be considered. The total points available are 100.
The three criteria together constitute the application score. The total possible points are 100.
C. Funding Priorities
Applicants that meet at least one of the following criterions will be given more favorable consideration in the proposal review process:
VI. Award Administration Information
A. Award Notices
The ITA Grants Officer will issue the cooperative agreement award (Form CD-450), which is the authorizing financial assistance award document. By signing Form CD-450, the recipient agrees to comply with all award provisions. It is provided by postal mail to the appropriate business office of the recipient’s organization and must be signed and returned without modification by the recipient within thirty (30) days of receipt.
Unsuccessful applicants will be notified that their proposals were not recommended for funding. ITA will retain unsuccessful applications for seven years, after which they will be destroyed.
B. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Administrative and national policy requirements for all Department of Commerce awards are contained in the Department of Commerce Pre-Award Notification Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements, published in the Federal Register on December 30, 2004 (69 FR 78389). This notice may be accessed by entering the Federal Register volume and page number provided in the previous sentence at the following Internet website: http://gpo.access.gov/fr/retrieve.html.
The recipient is required to submit financial and performance reports, including sources and uses of funds. Financial reports are to be submitted to the Department of Commerce Grants Office on a quarterly basis. A final financial report is due within 90 days after expiration of the award. Performance reports are to be submitted to the ITA Federal Program Officer. All performance reports must be submitted in triplicate (one original and two copies) to the ITA Program Officer via paper and electronic submission. Reports are due on a quarterly basis and must be submitted no later than thirty (30) days following the end of the three-month period(s) in the established award. Final reports are due ninety(90) days after the award completion. Lack of reporting by the recipient may result in restitution of a portion of the funds as determined by the Department.
VII. Agency Contacts
A. Award Contacts
Applicants may contact Brian Beall ((202) 482-5634, email: firstname.lastname@example.org) or Cynthia Warshaw ((202) 482-4601, email email@example.com) to obtain the full funding opportunity package and/or application package.
VIII. Other Information
A. Electronic Access
A link to the full text of the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) Announcement for the program can be found at http://www.grants.gov or by contacting the ITA individual(s) named in section VII.A. If you submit your request by e-mail please include in the subject line: Request for Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO). The FFO contains a full and complete description of the program requirements. In order to receive proper consideration, applications must comply with all information and requirements contained in the FFO. Standard Forms 424, 424A, 424B and SF-LLL can be obtained at http://www.grants.gov. Forms CD-511 and CD-346 may be obtained at: http://www.doc.gov/forms.
If making a submission through http://www.grants.gov, the date and time for receipt of application will be the date and time received at by the website. Applicants should print and save the proof of submission they receive from http://www.grants.gov. Applications received after the closing date and time will not be considered.
B. Limitation of Liability
Funding for this program is currently available subject to the availability of funds. However, in no event shall the Department be responsible for proposal preparation costs if the funds are cancelled. Publication of this notice does not obligate the Department to award any specific project or to obligate any available funds.
To apply for this cooperative agreement, please complete the following forms (required):