Local Volunteer is First Lake County CTA to Win Prestigious “CTA of the Year” Award
Michele Carson, Chair of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce’s
Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) Program, receives international recognition
The Lake County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that Michele Carson, Client Relations Manager at Strong Financial Network, has been named the “CTA of the Year” by the Tourism Ambassador Institute (TAI). TAI is an international organization that licenses and accredits over 30 local CTA Programs in 20 states. The Lake County CTAs have been delivering quality education to local residents that aspire to become advocates for Lake County.
The CTA Program teaches best practices, itinerary planning, customer service, and helps the CTAs increase their knowledge of Lake County. The program provides resources so that CTA know how to answer questions from visitors.
According to John Marks, former CEO of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors’ Bureau and Chair of the 2023 International CTA of the Year judging committee, “Michele Carson, this year's recipient of the CTA of the Year Award, was an absolute standout amongst the competition. She leads an innovative, and involved program in Lake County, California, where she plans, and executes, numerous gatherings for her local CTA’s to become even more involved in the community. Every time Michele walks into a room, everyone is greeted with a genuine smile, and her sense of invaluable service."
Michele Carson is the shining star of this program, dedicating countless volunteer hours running meetings, facilitating annual strategizing sessions, planning “EdVentures” that combine fun social activities with education, and coordinating an annual project that will place our beautiful county in a positive light to our visitors.
In 2022, Michele wrote a grant and was awarded funding to promote Lake County to visiting anglers. The fishing industry has a big impact on the local economy, and she believed that we could do more to make the anglers feel more welcome. She produced banners and signs for businesses and municipalities to display to make visiting anglers feel more welcome when they visited Clear Lake.
Michele is also credited with collaborating with the Clear Lake High School’s Culinary Program to ensure that the students became CTAs over the course of their studies. According to Laura McAndrews Sammel, CEO of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, “The CTA Program has been recognized by the Lakeport Unified School District administration as academically sound and has included in Clear Lake High School’s Hospitality Career Technical Education (CTE) curriculum (a career readiness program that prepares students to enter the workforce upon graduation). We are thrilled to serve our local businesses by offering this training to our up-and-coming workforce.”
Lake County boasts the only CTA Program in the entire network that is chaired and overseen by volunteers. While Michele’s efforts are supported by the paid staff at the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, much of the program is coordinated by Michele and the CTA Core Committee – with the help of many other CTAs. That’s the Michele Magic. She can take an idea that someone mentions to her and put it into action. It inspires others into action and, before you know it, another major accomplishment has been made. Michele focuses on strong customer service to and for Lake County’s visitors because she innately understands how that impacts economic development for the community.
Lake County residents and visitors alike will recognize a CTA by the gold or silver star lapel pin. Some CTAs wear their pin to work, while others don theirs when they go out to a community event. Michele was recently spotted wearing hers at a friend’s wedding reception. She is always prepared to answer visitors’ questions no matter where she is! This international accolade proves what we already know: Michele Carson is a shining Lake County Star.
About Tourism Ambassador Institute®
Over 56,000 CTAs have been certified since the founding of the Tourism Ambassador Institute® (TAI) in 2006. TAI licenses and accredits local Accredited Providers, often destination marketing organizations (DMOs), to offer the Certified Tourism Ambassador™ (CTA) program at the local level. There are currently over 30 local programs in 20 states.
The institute, founded by industry veteran Mickey Schaefer, FASAE, CAE, CTA, customizes the CTA program for each destination through research and collaboration with key stakeholders. Community engagement and alignment focus businesses on enhancing the experience for visitors and residents by working together with the hospitality sector, local government, economic development and more. Go to CTANetwork.com for more information.
Related Links: https://www.ctanetwork.com/