ORKNEY SPRINGS — Continuing its goal to “highlight the many faces of industry” in Shenandoah County, the county’s tourism staff hosted another Faces of Tourism gathering Monday.
This month’s tour was held at Shrine Mont in Orkney Springs, where Shrine Mont Director of Development Churchill “Kirk” Gibson IV led about 15 attendees on a historical tour of the retreat and conference center at 217 Shrine Mont Circle in Orkney Springs.
The program’s goal, according to Shenandoah County Tourism and Economic Development Coordinator Brenda Black, is growing the region as a tourism destination by inviting residents, business owners, county officials and visitors to the area to tour a local business each month within the county and then share that information with others.
“The reason for the program is to introduce you to different amenities in Shenandoah County. We are ambassadors, so we created the Faces of Tourism program,” Black said to the group following Monday’s tour.
Attendees Monday learned not only about Shrine Mont’s history, but what the retreat and conference center offers, primarily an escape for all who visit. With several different options for booking, which include both groups and individuals, the retreat center also makes for a good day trip, Gibson said.
The property also includes The Virginia House, which was formerly known as the Orkney Springs Hotel. The 96,000-square-foot Virginia House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was purchased by Shrine Mont in 1979.
Gibson, who took the tour through the center’s Cathedral Shrine of the Transfiguration, recreation hall and other gathering spaces while detailing historic facts about the area in which the center is situated, said the county’s tourism staff reached out to him about being involved with the program.
“I jumped on it as fast as I could. It’s a great resource,” Gibson said. “It’s incredible to get the word out. There’s a constituency in the county that just doesn’t know us outside of the music festival. We have all these other programs and events, and we’d like people to join us.”
In addition to programs like Faces of Tourism, the county tourism staff also handles concierge packets, visitor guides, outdoor recreation guides and is part of multiple regional tourism programs to help bring folks to the area as well as educate residents on what’s available to them.
“In tourism and even in economic development, we’re connectors. We’re always making connections,” Black said. “It can be as simple as someone having an attraction or an event, and we can take that event and run with that and pitch it as a story, put listings on our website, share it on social media. Everything about tourism can grow legs.”
The tourism staff detailed county tourism by sharing infographics, which Black called “great little cheat sheets when your talking to people from outside of the area.”
Those wishing to participate must register in advance for each tour by contacting Black at firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants will learn about different industry sectors including: unique lodging, culinary arts, hotel and motel operations, area attractions, farm visits, outdoor recreation, arts and culture and amenities at area resorts, camps and event venues.
Participants receive a tourism toolkit, “Faces of Tourism” swag bag, lunch and certificate of completion.
For more information, visit visitshenandoahcounty.com/faces-of-tourism/.