Chamber program will offer tourism training

Beginning Jan. 14, the Chamber of Commerce will offer a free tourism training program for front line employees in the Alberni Valley.

A free new program in Port Alberni will provide training to front line workers in local stores so they will be able to promote local businesses, tourism sites, attractions and activities to visitors to the area.

After a grant initiative originally started by the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce and Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot, the City of Port Alberni was successful in applying through a city grant opportunity, and the Alberni Valley Tourism Training Program (AVTTP) has been made possible.

The program will target front line workers in local stores, providing them with five modules to learn more about Port Alberni, its history, and its First Nations Culture. There will also be a customer service and social media training component of the program.

The Chamber of Commerce recently hired Genevieve Eichstadter to direct the program, and more than a month into her new job she has already developed the course scheduling outline, a website and a significant social media presence.

Eichstadter has been involved in the tourism industry for almost 10 years, and is currently pursuing her Masters of Arts in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies from UNBC.

“Our goal is to have 300 people trained,” Eichstadter said during the Chamber of Commerce dinner meeting on Nov. 30. “If we’re lucky we’ll have more.”

The program targets front line employees, high school and university students, managers and business owners and people who interact with visitors to Port Alberni. It is completely free, and provides students with the chance to refine their customer service, marketing and communication skills, as well as their tourism experience and knowledge.Students will receive a certificate at the end of the program, as well as a “champion card” that provides discounts at participating local businesses.

“We’re encouraging visitors to stay longer,” said Eichstadter. “And ultimately to have a better experience while they’re here.” The courses will be held in the conference room at the Chamber of Commerce, although a few may be held at a local tourist attraction.

The five modules all focus on different subjects, and take place in a classroom of about 20 people. “You’ll be able to talk and communicate,” said Eichstadter.

Eichstadter plans to spend the next 10 months reaching out in the community and promoting the program.

The AVTTP is currently seeking facilitators. For more information, check out their webpage at albernivalleytourismtraining.com, or check out their Facebook page at Alberni Valley Tourism Training Program. Anyone interested in registering for courses can now register online. The first course starts Jan. 14.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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