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Residents are encouraged to take an active part in helping to promote Stafford's tourist attractions.
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By LEE WOOLF
WHAT BETTER time than March Madness to stress the benefits of teamwork?
The topic will be tourism--and not college basketball--at a public meeting tomorrow night being hosted by Stafford's Department of Economic Development.
But county officials are hopeful that residents will bring the same spirit of cooperation and willingness to assist that winning basketball teams are demonstrating this month as they advance through the national tournament.
"We want to educate residents about the tourism efforts that are under way in the county," said Cathy Riddle, Stafford's public information officer. "And we're looking for their ideas and participation in helping to spread the word about the attractions that Stafford has to offer."
Tomorrow's meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Wingate Inn at 20 Sanford Drive off U.S. 17 in south Stafford.
One of the items on the agenda will be a request for volunteers to join Stafford's first Tourism Advisory Council.
This council will provide ideas and feedback on Stafford tourism activities and initiatives and work directly with Megan Orient, the county's tourism manager.
Orient said she hopes to have about eight volunteers who can help represent the following areas on the council:
Arts, entertainment and events
Attractions and historic sites
Parks and recreation
Travel and transportation
And a citizen at large
Orient said council members will be asked to serve for one year and will meet as needed.
"They will be asked to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to Stafford tourism, and to offer ideas and suggestions for future programming," Orient wrote in an e-mail interview.
"This council is being developed in response to the increased interest in the tourism industry as an emergent and productive economic engine, and to the need to better promote our historical significance."
Riddle said the creation of the tourism council "shows we're taking a serious look at tourism in Stafford and that we welcome residents' help. We know some people out there are great sources of information about Stafford's past. And we want to take advantage of that knowledge."
With historical attractions like Chatham, Belmont, Ferry Farm, the White Oak Museum and Aquia Church, Stafford indeed has a rich heritage to showcase to visitors.