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Hotel staffers tour Victoria

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
May 6, 2012 at 12:06 a.m.

Victoria Tourism Services Manager Joel Novosad details the college sports teams in Victoria as the tour passes Victoria College and University of Houston-Victoria.

FAMILIARIZATION TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Museum of the Coastal Bend

Fine Arts Center

Aquatics Center

Victoria College and University of Houston-Victoria

Youth Sports Complex

Children's Discovery Museum

Welder Center for the Performing Arts

Homes Tour, downtown Victoria

Nave Museum

Texas Zoo

Riverside Park

Jared Lucas was less than thrilled when his employer, Hampton Inn, informed him he was required to attend Sunday's Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau Familiarization Tour.

Lucas, a native of Victoria, has been employed with Hampton Inn as a front desk hotel employee for about seven months. And until Sunday, he thought he knew all there was to know about touring his hometown.

"All the way until we got to the bus, I had a bad attitude about taking the tour," Lucas, 31, admitted. "I'm from Victoria, and I just sort of know there isn't really anything to do here."

But after spending more than an hour on a Woodlands Express charter bus, visiting popular locations in Victoria including the Museum of the Coastal Bend, the Victoria Youth Sports Complex and the Children's Discovery Museum, Lucas said he changed his tune about what the city has to offer.

"I've struggled with telling our guests where to go when they ask me what there is to do. But I've been pleasantly surprised on this trip. I feel like I know now where to send them," he said.

"I knew about the Youth Sports Complex, but I didn't know there were so many fields out there. And I never knew there was a skate park."

Lucas joined about 20 fellow hotel workers on the tour, each from Victoria-based hotel companies on a four-hour bus tour provided by Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For most of Sunday afternoon, the tour traveled the streets of Victoria, familiarizing riders with Victoria entertainment, landmarks, and information about upcoming festivals and other events.

Joel Novosad, Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau tourism services manager, emceed much of the bus tour, quizzing riders on their knowledge of Victoria, and rewarding them with candy bars and other gift bags when they answered correctly.

Novosad said the bus ride aimed to provide an educational experience for "frontline" hotel desk workers, so they're prepared in the future when guests ask, "What is there to do in this city?"

He also hopes that by educating area hotel staff on Victoria tourism, guests of the city will leave Victoria and tell their friends about how much they enjoyed their stay.

"We want tourists to go back to their hometowns with a positive experience of their visit," Novosad said. "It will help bring future tourism to Victoria."

Other stops on the tour included a mini homes tour through historic downtown Victoria, a stop at the Welder Center for the Performing Arts, Texas Zoo and Riverside Park, and a drive-by of the Victoria Fine Arts and Aquatic Center.

"I'm glad I came," Lucas said. "I'm pretty sure I'm going to learn a lot more by the time it's over ... and I know that I can tell my guests where to go. Whether they're looking for a family experience, or educational experience, or entertainment."

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