The West African nation of Senegal's U.S. ambassador and minister of tourism and handicrafts are set to visit Atlanta next week.
Tourism Minister Thierno Lo will arrive on July 22, with Ambassador Fatou Danielle Diagne scheduled to come a day later, said Abdoul Aziz Gueye, head of the country's North American tourism promotion office in Atlanta.
The officials were set to travel with Senegalese artisans and fashion designers to Atlanta during the National Black Arts Festival, which takes place July 14-17, but had to push back their visit to accompany Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade to Chicago.
Mr. Gueye, head of the Atlanta office, was in Indianapolis with the artisans during the Indiana Black Expo. Large groups of Senegalese artisans go every year to sell their crafts at the expo.
Ms. Diagne, the ambassador, took up her post just three months ago. She hopes to meet with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and make other business connections.
Mr. Lo wants to help Senegal's merchants make inroads in Atlanta and eventually get their products into large department stores across the country.
"What he'd like to see us achieve is for the Senegalese artistry to be available in big stores in the United States," Mr. Gueye told GlobalAtlanta.
Despite the recession, the number of American visitors to Senegal increased by 9.7 percent in 2009, he said.
The small country of 12 million people hopes to market itself to American travelers already changing planes in Dakar, Senegal's capital, on their way to better-known destinations like Johannesburg, South Africa.
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. has a seven-hour flight from New York to Dakar.
For more information, e-mail Mr. Gueye at [email protected].