The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

February 1, 2013

First Tourism Ambassadors graduate

Calvin Adkins

TARBORO — What do Barbara Campbell Davis, Buddy Hooks, Rosetta Sherrod Jones, Candis Owens and Sara Peveler have in common?

They are the first Edgecombe County Tourism Ambassadors. The quintet received their certification Thursday during a ceremony in their honor at the Edgecombe County Administration Building.

The program entailed six courses, including Edgecombe County history, hospitality, introduction to genealogy, historic properties, African American history and heritage and event planning. Students who completed five out of six courses were tagged as ambassadors.

Candis Owens, a Tarboro councilwoman, has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for Edgecombe County tourism and the classes may have sparked an even greater interest.

“The classes were fascinating,” she said. “I learned so much about Edgecombe County. I thought I knew some, but I found out that there was a lot I didn’t know.”

The class allowed the students to tour historic sites such as Shiloh Landing, Princeville Museum, the Veterans Museum and the Blount Bridgers House. Owens said she was particularly fond about the African American History class.

“I don’t know when I enjoyed something so much,” she said.

When called upon, the ambassadors will be responsible for taking out-of-town guests on tours.

Over the past few years, the tourism industry has become a big attraction in Eastern North Carolina and Edgecombe County Commissioners and the Tarboro Town Council have talked about how the county can financially benefit from it. The two groups previously met in a roundtable discussion about the matter. In 2008, the board appointed a tourism development advisory council to identify assets and make plans to better promote them.

One method of better promoting the county is currently on the dream list of Edgecombe County Tourism proponents — a director. The director will focus on marketing Edgecombe County and Tarboro which, in return, will bring in visitors.

“This is more than a dream,” Owens said. “It’s a hope. We need someone like he or she. In order for our county to move forward, someone has to move it forward.”

Hooks, a former director for the Edgecombe County Cultural Arts, is also an advocate for tourism.

“The tourism council caused me to believe in the possibility of the tourism industry here,” Hooks said. “That’s why I am an advocate to put something in place to make people want to come here. If they come, we need to have someone to welcome them. That is what this graduate tourism program does.

“It was a lot of fun. I hope that the class in the spring will have a waiting list.”