KINGMAN - Governor Janet Napolitano visited Kingman Sunday to present a check for $31,995 to the Kingman Chamber of Commerce and the Historic Route 66 Association.
The money is part of the Teamwork for Effective Arizona Marketing grant from the Arizona Department of Tourism and is geared to upgrading visitor centers and customer service around the state.
"As we all know, word of mouth is one of the most powerful advertisements, and without great customer service our visitors may not come back year after year," said Kingman Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Beverly Liles. "We are always happy to partner with the Arizona Office of Tourism to help expand visitors' knowledge about Arizona and collaborate to reach an even broader audience."
Brian Lang, visitor services manager for the Arizona Office of Tourism, was with Napolitano to present the check. He said that AOT has been a long-time partner with the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce and realized the importance of the branding project currently going on in the city.
He said the TEAM Development grant was created to help communities such as Kingman in "spreading the word about what the great destinations are in the entire Grand Canyon State."
Lang said he works very closely with communities throughout the state to upgrade and maintain the visitor centers and customer service program.
"Arizona rural communities often serve as the starting point of visitors coming to the state, and when they come to our state, we obviously want to make a great first impression," Lang said.
Programs such as the TEAM grant help communities communicate with the rest of the world about what treasures can be found here in Kingman, he said.
"Gov. Napolitano has worked tirelessly to make Arizona safer, stronger and more prosperous. She has made it a priority to direct Arizona like a business: cut the deficit, reduce government waste and invest in what happens. She is the leading advocate of one of Arizona's biggest industries," Liles said
Napolitano said when she took office, Arizona had a huge deficit and a proposal on the table to eliminate the Arizona Office of Tourism as a money saving maneuver. Napolitano said she felt the move would be "penny wise and pound foolish."
If they eliminated the office, she said, Arizona would never get it back, jeopardizing the healthy growth of the state. Tourism is the state's lifeblood, she said. It brings in new people and new jobs into the state. Visitors to Arizona generate millions in revenue annually.
Instead of cutting the AOT, Napolitano said she started a project called Arizona Treasures.
"There are so many great places in Arizona that many people don't even know about," she said. She started going around the state, designating these places, including the Andy Devine Days festival last year.
The TEAM grant, in the amount of $31,995, was earmarked for innovative and effective tourism promotion, Napolitano said. She said she was happy she was able to present the check to Kingman.