By Caitlyn Witkamp and Claire Zuwala
Imagine being a tourist in your hometown, kind of a crazy idea, right? You have lived there for most of your life, so you should know everything there is to know about your sweet little town, where everything is, the places to chow down, and the best places for entertainment or fun… but, can you market your town to others? The Flint and Genesee Convention Visitors Bureau (CVB) is trying to change that.
“Be A Tourist” is a program that the Flint and Genesee CVB put in place to help change the way the local residents, future residents, and visitors to the community see Flint and Genesee. Director of the Flint and Genesee CVB, Alaina Wiens shared, “The CVB thought what better way to make residents aware of what is happening with all the development downtown and throughout the county than by having a day where they can see a bunch of new buildings, attractions, and historical venues, while providing the transportation to them all for $1.”
When the “Be A Tourist” program started seven years ago, it was a one-day event that showed the best things about Flint and Genesee. Now it is a five-month event that encompasses so much more. Weins said that the transformation into a larger event “says great things about our community. That we have enough things going on throughout Genesee County that we would be able to provide an experience based on certain activities of interest.”
Another benefit of the program now being five months is that people don’t feel like they have to pick-and-choose what activities they want to do. With the longer program, people have all the time in the world to experience the best things about Flint and Genesee. The community around Flint and Genesee can talk about their city with much more pride, knowledge, and passion. They fall back in love with their city, all thanks to the Flint and Genesee CVB.
The CVB also has the opportunity for their local community members to become a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA). When asked how the need for a CTA program was identified in Flint and Genesee, Weins responded, “The Flint & Genesee CVB strives daily on changing the perception of the area, which helps the community grow and prosper. The CTA Program demonstrates our dedication to promoting the destination as one of the best, with a high level of commitment to visitors and people that work, live and play here.” This certification is beneficial to the community members because they get to learn about their city in new ways, and learn how to encourage others to check out everything that Flint and Genesee has to offer. This certification builds upon the pride that the residents already feel for their town and helps prepare the community for the long-term as well. As Weins puts it, “As Flint and Genesee County increases in popularity, thousands of people will be experiencing the area for the first time. The CTA Program is the perfect way to prepare and welcome these changes, and visitors, and offer an experience they’ll remember forever… the program helps us all prepare for the future.”
- “Be A Tourist” is a program to help change the way the local residents, future residents, and visitors to the community see Flint and Genesee.
- The “Certified Tourism Ambassador” program offers a chance for the community to promote their love of their hometown.