Friday, June 29, 2007

Congratulations

The role of Tourism Director on this corner of The Beach perfectly demonstrates, "You get out of it what you put into it."
I don't even know how to find out if Fall River has a Tourism Director. I know they used to have one. Or two. I'm not sure. I know the second guy who had the job was often introduced as "The First Tourism Director." But the fact that I'm not Fall River Tourism Director gives me the right to say that there is no reason for a Fall River Tourism Director. Sending a press release to the local newspaper (that doesn't have an online presence) is not a way to attract, create, and maintain tourism. I'll spot a tip to whomever it is who is or isn't the Fall River Tourism Director: If you convince the Fall River talk radio station to go either all music or all silent, you would make Fall River 85% more inviting. No matter how many Friendly Local Businesses maps you hand out at the highway Visitors' Center, you can't attract visitors to a town where stammering, caterwauling, sniveling, bad grammar, and speech impediments rule the airwaves.
Of course, visitors don't listen to the radio while they experience the Fall River Historical Society, enjoy the Portuguese restaurants, admire the architecture of the Highlands, or wade through Boy Scouts at Battleship Cove.
The other SouthCoast city, New Bedford, is another story. With a simple concept -- whales, whaling, fishing, history -- tourism just seems to happen. And busybodies form committees and create action plans, devise strategies and make things happen. The city has capitalized on its strengths and even invented new ones. What started as a seafood celebration has become a popular folk music and arts festival. A dusty old room full of scrimshaw and boat models is now a sprawling historical resource and research center. Celebrating its place as the biggest money-making seaport, a waterfront festival (only a few years old) has made headlines all over. No matter that their local radio station is also a fumbling mess used primarily as newspaper column fodder.
It's almost as though they wouldn't need a Tourism Director. Except that the last one, Arthur Motta, was indispensable. Sure, I admire anyone who can put on a suit and give tours. I was one. But Arthur so clearly loved promoting the city, taking part in every event, conference, exhibition, and show. I worked with him at some lame-brained event, and Arthur was personable, quick with a positive quip or salient point, and just a great professional. He's been tapped to head the Southeastern Massachusetts Convention and Visitors Bureau, and I wish him well.
So, enter Ann Marie Lopes. I'll let Aaron take over from here, although you can click on the quote and get the full story:

NEW BEDFORD — Ann Marie Lopes, a city
native and former director of marketing for the Oceanarium, has been named the city's Director of Tourism and Marketing.
Mayor Scott W. Lang made the announcement Thursday, saying that Ms. Lopes, most recently employed as a senior program specialist in the UMass Dartmouth Division of Professional Education, was one of 18 candidates who applied for the job. She is a resident of the city.
[then the former AntMan makes "experience and blah blah" statement]
... Ms. Lopes has 20 years experience in marketing and communications, much of it earned in New York City and Washington, D.C. She returned to the city a few years ago to take a job as director of marketing for the New Bedford Oceanarium, and remained in the city after the Oceanarium effort fell apart. She has been writing a weekly column on the Cape Verdean community called "So Sabe" for The Standard-Times. [salary info omitted by me]

The City Council referred her appointment to the Committee on Appointments and Briefings. After the meeting, Ms. Lopes declined to comment.

I'm not sure it's auspicious to state that the person in charge of promoting and marketing the city "declined to comment," Aaron. I volunteered at the Oceanarium for Ann Marie. I did some shoddy carpentry for her folks. Her Dad was instrumental in getting and keeping the Ernestina in New Bedford. Ann Marie Lopes is also the person who finally convinced me to get an insulin pump. I am thus in her debt.
Congratulations, Ann Marie. Boa sorti!

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