Stutzman earns professional certifications

ALPENA — Mary Beth Stutzman, president and CEO of the Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, has simultaneously earned Sustainable Tourism Destination Management Certification from George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies and Global Sustainable Tourism Council Certification, validating a responsible understanding of global practices that ensure destinations grow conscientiously when sustainable methodologies are employed. The certification is an indication of higher-level attainment of knowledge, experience, best practices, and forecasting in the growth management of tourism destinations.

Stutzman is responsible for managing the Alpena: Sanctuary of the Great Lakes brand and guiding the CVB in its mission to market and promote the Alpena area as a tourism destination to bring overnight travelers to the region for the economic benefit to local businesses, restaurants, attractions, and secondary investment that improves community infrastructure. Alpena is promoted as the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes, the place where history and heritage collide with relaxed outdoor adventure.

“Marketing and promoting the Alpena area to bring people to Northeast Michigan is only half the job. Working to protect all those reasons why people visit, or choose to live here, are of equal importance,” Stutzman said. “This takes an incredible amount of teamwork. Without our small town culture, environmental diversity and outdoor recreation opportunities, we simply would not be the same community. It’s critical that all involved in community development make this a priority when making decisions that will impact Alpena’s future.

“It takes everyone from business owners, industry leaders, residents and future generations to maintain the integrity of the Alpena area. Through this interactive certification process I have learned that sustainable practices fill a wide spectrum the help ensure a community continues to grow and prosper, without detrimental effects to our identity or way of life.”

Tourism has the potential to achieve environmental, socio-cultural and economic goals within a destination; protecting and enhancing cultural and environmental assets and quality of life, while mitigating negative impacts of development, she said. Sustainable tourism destination management runs the gamut of policy and planning, management and marketing of tourism products and destination expectations, and investment and finance of sustainable development projects. Sustainable practices are also used to guide community planning, manage development investment, responsibly manage supply chains, reduce poverty, and protect or rejuvenate a destination’s unique culture and biodiversity.

“We have been tracking significant increases to our tourism influx that directly coincides with our increased energies to promote the community outside of the region. The results are enhanced by the experience delivered by the community once guests arrive. Everyone is working together to create positive growth,” Stutzman said. “But, as Alpena continues to grow we will see more activities that may or may not be sustainable or wholly beneficial to the fabric of our community. It is our hope that the convention and visitors bureau will be engaged as a resource to help guide activities to seek the balance of benefits to the community while minimizing negative impacts on all those things that make Alpena a desirable destination and place of residence.”

In addition to her recent certifications, Stutzman is a graduate of Alpena High School (cum laude), earned an associate degree from Alpena Community College with a concentration in journalism, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, dual majoring in marketing and Communications, and psychology. She has more than 20 years of experience in the field of marketing and public relations managing local, state, regional, and national programs within a variety of industries.