ALPENA - There is a large push locally to expand Alpena as a brand and as a featured destination for tourists. As much success as the efforts have produced thus far, there is nothing better than hosting distinguished guests and having them share their experience with others.
This week Alpena will be part of the US-23 Heritage Trail tour. This comes on the heels of a vist last week by travel journalists.
This week Alpena will be one of several stops for 35 guests who are taking a trip along the US-23 Heritage Trail. There will be state representatives and senators, leaders from travel Michigan and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, as well as the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments and the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Mary Beth Stutzman, president of the Alpena Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the group will spend more than a day in Alpena and be treated to a shipwreck tour while in town. Sen. John Moolenaar , Rep. Pete Pettalia, Sen. Howard Walker and DNR Director Keith Greagh are part of the group on the tourt. Stutzman said this is not the first time the group has been to Alpena and by having them return it is a reminder to them about Alpena's history, what is offers now and how it wants to be in the future.
"We had them here last time and they had such a good time they wanted to come back," Stutzman said. "These are busy people and they represent our community, but it is impossible for them to live here and know what is happening every day. This gives them a chance to see what every day life is like here in the community and remind them of what life is like here, so when they go back and make decisions they know what they are representing."
Last week a group of 13 international travel journalists visited Alpena for three days and were treated to many things the residents enjoy on a daily basis. They sampled local restaurants, visited places of interest, as well as spent time mingling with community members.
Stutzman said, having these writers, who have traveled the world, take in Alpena and what it has to offer is valuable. She said said many of the writers have travel blogs with large amounts of followers and the exposure gained from the posts, as well as published articles will help spread the news about Alpena.
"They were submerging themselves into the culture of our community and getting inspiration for stories they will write," Stutzman said. "The last time we had journalists visit was 2007 and we are still getting press from that visit. This was a great opportunity for Alpena because we can't buy this type of advertising. By having them in town we also get a fresh look at Alpena from an outside perspective and that is important. It allows us to see what we have to offer and how it stacks up against the rest of the world."
Stutzman said to her knowledge the writers haven't written anything about Alpena yet, but is confident they will. She said a number of them made it clear to her that Alpena is a wonderful destination.
"A couple of the writers have been on an unsupported canoe trip through Mexico. Another went to Antarctica, so they are people that are very well traveled and well versed in the tour industry," Stutzman said. "They gave us nothing but gold stars and they had a wonderful time. Everyone left happy."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com