Grand Rapids CTA Program Recognized As The Fastest Growing In The Country

Posted 06/12/2014
In just ten months Experience Grand Rapids has trained 1,002 CTAs

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (June 12, 2014) - Experience Grand Rapids, the official destination marketing organization for Kent County, has certified 1,002 tourism ambassadors since the program launched in August 2013, making it the fastest growing in the country, GR 1000 Cakeout of all 21 nationwide programs. This nationwide certification program is a multi-faceted program that serves to increase tourism by inspiring front-line hospitality employees, volunteers, public service staff, community leaders and other proud area residents to turn every single visitor encounter into a positive experience.

"One of the true advantages that Grand Rapids has when seeking convention or leisure visitations, is that of a collaborative and passionate community," said Experience Grand Rapids President Doug Small. "The CTA program is not just for tourism professionals; rather it has caught the attention and developed excitement from a variety of businesses, organizations, public sector or simply just enthusiastic residents. This collaborative spirit makes this community more appealing to visitors and it has been both exciting and pleasing to see so many West Michigan residents wanting to get on board and engage positively with our visitors."

Administered through the Tourism Ambassador Institute®, the Certified Tourism Ambassador program is a nationwide certification with 21 programs in 17 states, involving over 11,000 CTAs. Destinations such as Anaheim & Orange County, Dallas, Baltimore and many more are using the Certified Tourism Ambassador program as a competitive advantage in selling their destination, as do attractions and other entities.

"The rapid growth of the CTA program is indicative of the wonderful destination and great convention & visitor's bureau team. From Grand Rapids' professional front-line, collaborative businesses, and caring residents, the quality experience shown to visitors will surely strengthen your competitive advantage over time," said Tourism Ambassador Institute® President Mickey Schaefer, FASAE, CAE, CTA.

"As we bring companies and company leaders to our region, it's critical that they feel welcome here and part of our community," said Birgit Klohs, President & CEO, The Right Place, Inc. "The CTA program has built a small army of educated, engaged Grand Rapids citizens that does just that."

Experience Grand Rapids is accepting nominations for the inaugural Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) Star of the Year Award nominations. This award is presented to a CTA who exemplifies excellence in hospitality and customer service. This individual consistently exceeds customer expectations and possesses a strong knowledge of the region and its attractions. Winners for the CTA Star of the Year will be selected by a panel of judges and recognized at the Impacting Hospitality Celebration on November 20, 2014 in conjunction with the International Wine, Beer & Food Festival.

The Certified Tourism Ambassador official industry designation is presented by Experience Grand Rapids on behalf of the nationwide Tourism Ambassador Institute. For more information or to sign up for a class, visit

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About Experience Grand Rapids

Established in 1927, Experience Grand Rapids (EXGR) leads the marketing of Grand Rapids/Kent County as a premier convention & visitor destination providing a significant positive impact to the West Michigan economy. Previously named the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau, EXGR represents the second largest city in Michigan with over one million residents.