A concierge has become the milestone 50,000th person to be certified in the international Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) program at popular tourist destination Galveston Island, Texas.
Miranda Belansky, CTA, 27, works in retail and for a small vacation rental company.
CTAs are volunteers, executives, business owners, government officials, and other workers who are local experts on their destination’s attractions and other amenities for visitors. They are specially certified and trained to enhance the visitor experience and work together destination-wide to drive a positive experience.
Galveston Island’s CTA program is run through the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau. Executive Director Kelly de Schaun, CTA, says the program was “just what we needed. The program has helped us to align the divergent sectors of our highly dynamic industry and to speak with one voice regarding the amazing amenities, services and attributes our destination boasts.”
Belansky is one of the 398 CTAs who are active in Galveston Island’s program, which launched in May 2014.
“When we launched the Certified Tourism Ambassador program nationwide 13 years ago, we recognized that that visitors and attendees want value in their tourism experience,” says Mickey Schaefer, Tourism Ambassador Institute president, FASAE, CAE, CTA. “To reach this major milestone of certifying 50,000 CTAs demonstrates that DMOs and their community stakeholders understand that strengthening the visitor experience makes a significant contribution to their local economies.”
At the time of her certification, Belansky was working as a concierge for another vacation rental company.That company offered to send her to CTA training.
“I was all for it,” says Belansky. She grew up not far from Galveston and visited frequently before moving to the Gulf of Mexico community seven years ago.
“I want to help make Galveston the best it can be,” she says. “Being in the tourism industry is my way of helping. The CTA program has given me the tools that I need to do this.”
Belansky particularly liked learning more of the island’s history, but the CTA program helped expand Belansky’s knowledge and to get everyone in local tourism thinking similarly about how to give visitors an experience they will share and want to revisit.
Belansky is asked many times a day to recommend places that locals like because she works on the Strand, which attracts lots of visitors from nearby cruise ship terminals.
“Being a CTA means just sharing my love and knowledge of the island to others,” she says, “whether they live one mile or 1,000 miles away. It’s a great city with a rich history, so I want everyone to experience it to the fullest.”