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Visit Mesa Becomes First-Ever Autism-Certified Destination Marketing Organization
Visit Mesa is the country’s first-ever destination marketing organization designated as a “Certified Autism Center” by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). This new distinction is a result of the organization’s staff and governing board of directors completing more than 100 hours of specialized training to help families and individuals with special needs prepare for their perfect vacation and enjoy the varied travel offerings that can be had in the East Valley city.
“Visit Mesa is thrilled to be a national leader in the visitor industry and invest in training to better serve individuals with autism,” said Marc Garcia, president & CEO of Visit Mesa. “As a parent of a child who was diagnosed on the spectrum, not only is this the right thing to do, it’s an effort we are very proud to ignite here in Mesa. We are already seeing the movement spread within our community since embarking on this campaign only a few months ago.”
The recognition enables Visit Mesa to tap into a market with 32 million annual travelers, according to IBCCES’ data. More than $262 billion is spent on autism-related services in the U.S. each year, according to IBCCES. Autism affects a significant number of people as ASD is at a 600 percent increase year after year, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
Now that Visit Mesa has become the first-ever destination marketing organization designated as a “Certified Autism Center”, on April 16 it raised the bar even higher by requesting partner businesses in Mesa’s hospitality community follow their lead to undergo autism training. Guest-facing staff at Mesa businesses are actively being approached and will complete autism sensitivity and awareness training within the next six months. Example Visit Mesa partner businesses that have expressed interest early on or are currently enrolled in the certification process include several Mesa hotels, museums, and the many family attractions that serve ASD visitors such as Jake’s Unlimited.
Businesses will conduct training through IBCCES which includes training and knowledge assessment of common behaviors and sensory considerations associated with ASD.
“Visit Mesa and its Board of Directors believe certification will serve this growing, yet underserved community. It’s an unmatched opportunity for Mesa to elevate our national travel brand and our destination promise,” Garcia said.