Blount County Announces First Certified Tourism Ambassador Program in Tennessee
MARYVILLE, Tenn. — Blount County is once again leading the way in the tourism industry as it takes the next step in providing its visitors with a positive experience and the utmost quality service. The Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority announced a new Blount County Certified Tourism Ambassador Program, which is a certification program that inspires front-line hospitality employees and volunteers in the area to work together turning every visitor encounter into a positive experience.
“Great hospitality is what Tennessee is all about,” said Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker. “Tourism employees on our front-lines are often the first impression a visitor experiences. This new Ambassador Program will ensure that visitors to Blount County get the best possible information, taking our already great hospitality to an even higher level.”
This is the first Tourism Ambassador Program in the State of Tennessee and one of the first in the Southeast United States.
“We have the attractions and natural beauty that draw thousands of visitors to our area each year. But, we have to also make sure that we are showing each visitor our hospitality as well to ensure they have a wonderful experience so they want to return,” said Tami Vater, director of tourism for the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority.
The Blount County Certified Tourism Ambassador Program is based on a nationwide certification program that is designed for all levels of employees. It provides customized training where successful candidates receive a certification and the designation of Certified Tourism Ambassador.
The program’s curriculum will include topics, such as economic impact, attractions, dining, lodging, shopping, waterways, historic landmarks, maps, hospitality 101 and quarterly networking. The program will provide individuals in the community with the knowledge base and resources to answer questions effectively and correctly, and it is designed for anyone who is involved in the tourism industry. (gas station attendees, hotel staff, restaurant workers, retail workers, attractions’ employees, government employees, etc.)
“The program will be beneficial for anyone who might come in contact with a visitor,” said Vater.
This initiative begins with a series of focus groups, followed by a Subject Matter Expert Panel, and an extensive online/print survey to the front-line and management. Insights garnered from the focus groups and other research will be used to develop the program curriculum. Once the curriculum is field tested, “train-the-facilitator” sessions will be conducted with a select group of local hospitality industry representatives.
“We anticipate the kickoff of the county-wide training program to take place October,” said Vater. “Our goal is to certify a majority of our front-line employees during the first year of the Blount County Tourism Ambassadors Program.”
For more information on the Blount County Certified Tourism Ambassador Program, please contact Tami Vater, Director of Tourism at (865) 273-1213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.