Regional tourism gets 15 new ambassadors

Posted 10/03/2014
By Ike Wilson
The Frederick News-Post

Shelley Aloi spotted a short notice in the newspaper about a Certified Tourism Ambassador class, and the former Frederick alderwoman decided to sign up for the four-hour training Thursday offered by Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership at Brunswick Heritage Museum.

"I thought it would be fun and educational, and it was," Aloi said after the class. "And the presenters made it an enjoyable experience. You never know when the knowledge might come in handy."

She has had visitors from around the world, including Bulgaria, Indonesia and Germany, Aloi said, and what she learned about the region would be an added benefit to future visitors. "Besides, it's always good to learn."

Certified Tourism Ambassadors is a nationally recognized tourism designation that equips people to provide service and hospitality to visitors, leading them to stay longer, visit more sites, tell their friends about their experience and return to the region, said Shuan Butcher, communications director for Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

Journey Hallowed Ground includes 180 miles from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, through Frederick County and ends at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia. The area also includes nine presidential homes, 13 national parks, four states and 15 counties.

Taking the class was long overdue, said Pepper Scotto, who volunteers with the C&O Canal National Historic Park as a lead docent for Lander Lockhouse Museum. She interprets local history.

The class was "professionally and enthusiastically presented," Scotto said. "I travel quite a lot in and out of the country, and I know how important it is to encounter visitors and be helpful."

Mary Mannix, Maryland Room manager at C. Burr Artz Public Library, said she was pleased to be a facilitator for the class.

"It's always nice to help spread the gospel of the journey," she said.

The 15 class participants were receptive, Mannix said.

"It was a nice, talkative group. They were really into it, which shows the pride they have in Frederick County," she said.

Twenty-seven percent of CTAs trained are from Frederick County, said Alyssa Poulin, special events and marketing coordinator for Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, and a certified tourism ambassador.

"That's pretty huge," Poulin said. "I think Frederick County gets it when it comes to appreciating local history and the value of tourism."

The class is a great national certification, said Terri Householder, director of Brunswick Main Street.

"It combines knowledge of the area with great customer skills for impactful interactions with our visitors," she said.

Graduates of the program are well-versed in the professional standards of customer service as well as the many features of the JTHG National Heritage Area, Butcher said.

To date, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership has trained more than 1,200 CTAs in the region. Nationwide, about 10,000 people have earned the designation.

"This is a great program to learn about all tourism aspects of this region, and we hope it opens doors and opportunities for professional economic development," Butcher said.

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