Joe Jarosh is CTA of the Year

Posted 07/17/2014
Green Bay Press Gazette

Without Door County business owner Joe Jarosh, a Certified Tourism Joe JaroshAmbassador (CTA) and his wife, Sue, there wouldn't be a visitor information center in Jacksonport.

There wouldn't be a local phone number that people could call to get information about Jacksonport attractions. There wouldn't be a community concierge to help visitors locate lodging or find a seat at a fish boil.

Because Joe Jarosh provides all those things with his legendary smile and humor, he has been named the national 2014 Certified Tourism Ambassador of the Year, the first time a business owner has earned the national award. It's also the first time a Door County CTA has been selected as the winner of the nation-wide competition.

The award is presented annually by the Tourism Ambassador Institute, which accredits CTA programs across the country that train tourism industry workers in enhancing the visitor experience in their areas.

"Joe is the poster child for the Door County CTA program," says John Marks, co-chair of the award selection committee and past president and CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Jaroshes, who write the weekly Jacksonport community column in the Saturday Door County Advocate, have owned the Jacksonport Craft Cottage since 1984. They've long included time and space to provide visitors brochures and information about Door County, including Jacksonport, one of the 19 communities that make up the popular vacation destination.

They field hundreds of questions every year from visitors who want to know where to get to beaches, orchards and the county's famed fish boils. It's the store phone number and the Jaroshes' personal number that are printed on visitor information materials.

Jarosh answers many more questions in his seasonal job in the nature center at the popular Whitefish Dunes State Park. He travels throughout the county to learn about the area's attractions and visitor amenities.

Even though Jarosh already provided a warm experience to visitors, he signed on to train as a CTA after some urging from his son, Jon Jarosh, CTA, who works for the Door County Visitor Bureau, which administers the CTA program. Joe and Sue Jarosh were among the first Door County CTAs in 2009.

Because the gift shop focuses on Door County mementos from 130 regional artists, opening a visitor center early on made sense, Joe Jarosh said. The CTA program enhances that effort.

"Up until the CTA program, each community represented themselves, not sharing information from other communities," he said. "The CTA program was very unifying, bringing all of these communities together. It's been a good marriage between the CTA program and our business."

"It's very exciting to be able to share Joe's many accomplishments and his dedication to the Door County CTA program," says Door County Visitor Bureau President and CEO Jack Moneypenny, CTA. "Having one of our impressive CTAs be named as the national CTA of the Year establishes Door County firmly as a CTA destination."

In May, the Door County Visitor Bureau named Joe and Sue Jarosh the 2014 Door County Certified Tourism Ambassadors of the year, and as a result, they moved on to the national competition. While national contest rules only allowed an individual, not a couple, to be eligible for the national award, it's certainly a CTA team effort at the Jacksonport Craft Cottage.

The Door County program has certified more than 600 CTAs since the Door County Visitor Bureau started it in 2009.

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