Rose Lamy is an ambassador — but there's nothing foreign about her service. Instead, the 77-year-old retiree is an official Connecticut Ambassador and her mission is to share her passion for the state with as many people as she can.
"I was born here, grew up here, worked here, raised my family here and now I'm retired here," says Lamy. "I love it here and I love telling others how great Connecticut is."
The Ambassador Program, developed by the state's Office of Tourism, was designed to help raise awareness about what the state has to offer. More than 3,000 Connecticut residents, many of them retirees like Lamy, have signed up to spread the word on the state's arts and culture scene, history, recreational facilities and more.
There's a good reason for the effort. Travel research indicates that the majority of tourists visiting Connecticut come here to connect with relatives and friends — and those friends and relatives can make all the difference in whether or not visitors plan return trips.
"Our residents are the best experts on what's going on in the state, which makes them extremely influential in promoting us as a preferred travel destination," says Randy Fiveash, director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism.
Ambassadors participate by distributing materials, helping out at welcome centers and volunteering at special events, such as the Eastern States Exposition. Lamy has distributed thousands of free maps and guides at libraries, beaches, schools and businesses.
"Wherever I go, I give people maps," says Lamy. "They love them and it's a wonderful experience for me."
"Lamy's enthusiasm makes her a perfect addition to the program," says Fiveash. "Last year we asked her for a fall getaway suggestion and she told us about visiting her favorite beaches after the summer crowds had gone. We posted her suggestion on our website and it got a tremendous number of hits."
Participants volunteer as much or as little time as they like. Once they sign up, (online at www.CTVisit.com/ambassador or by calling 888-288-4748), the Department of Tourism sends out an official kit, including state guides, maps and other materials.
Members also receive e-newsletters with special offers, events and volunteer opportunities.
"These are folks who have great pride in our state," says Fiveash. "You can't get better representatives than that."