07142010leisa.jpgLet’s just be honest here, Fayetteville is known for a lot of things — being a top notch tourist destination is probably not one of them though. There are plenty of people working hard to change that, and Curator of Education at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex Leisa Greathouse is one of them. She is a Fayetteville native, a team player with a drive to showcase the best that the area has to offer, a staunch supporter of the art, culture and history that abounds here, and a valuable asset to the community. Her hard work and contributions have not gone unnoticed.

Greathouse was recently awarded the first national Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) of the Year Star Award for her tireless work on Fayetteville area history, tourism, marketing and visitor service.

“I was just giddy inside when I found out,” said Greathouse. “I was tickled, and I won’t make any bones about it. It has been rejuvenating. Professionally, it is probably the top thing I’ve ever achieved and it solidifies my more than 20 years of service to the state of North Carolina. It really meant a lot.”

The CTA program is fairly new to Fayetteville — Greathouse is a member of the first local graduating class. The program aims to increase tourism by inspiring front line hospitality workers to work together to make every visitor encounter a pleasant one. According to www.tourismambassadorinstitute. com. The premise is simple: If front-line employees and volunteers (those who come into immediate contact with the visitor) provide quality service to visitors (convention attendees, visitors, business travelers, etc.), the visitor is more likely to have a positive experience. Visitors who have a positive experience are more likely to return at some point in the future. They will share their perceptions with their friends. Everyone benefits – the tourist, the hospitality industry, the local economy and, most importantly, the frontline ambassador.

For Greathouse this program has been a long time coming.

“In one sense we’ve been waiting for something like this to come to the community,” said Greathouse. “I think it will unite us. The tourism industry is made up of so many organizations — businesses, nonprofits, cultural organizations — it was really hard otherwise to get all these groups together and that was a real problem in our community for a long time. The CTA program brings us all together and helps us learn about each other and the result is better service to our visitors and our customers.”

So we don’t have a leaning tower, a sandy shore, an uber-large canyon or a snowy mountain peak to draw visitors this way. We’ve got our history, heroes and a hometown feeling going for us, and a growing number of tourism ambassadors who are looking to impress, befriend and inform visitors as they pass through, and hopefully inspire them to return and even spread the word about the great folks that live here, the interesting events and things to do in the area and the hospitality of the folks that make this such a unique community.

To find out more or become a Certified Tourism Ambassador visit http://www.visitfayettevillenc.com/ or call the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at 888-98-HEROES.

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