In Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s desire to give Mobile’s first responders a pay raise, sadly long-serving, dedicated tourism ambassadors to Visit Mobile’s Visitors Center at Fort Conde are being relieved of their volunteer assignments.

We are so grateful for the service we have been able to provide to Mobile and the city’s visitors, and we are so proud of the 16 years of service our volunteer ambassadors have provided as a team assisting Mobile’s visitors.

Because the City Council restored level funding to Visit Mobile/the Mobile Convention and Visitors Bureau (MCVB), the entire budget of $200,000 from the Fort Conde Visitors Center was transferred to Visit Mobile/MCVB’s 2017 operating budget. In addition, $225,000 was eliminated from the budget proposals for the Move Mobile Youth Initiative as well as the African-American Heritage Trail. This was approved unanimously by the Mobile City Council in an amendment from Mayor Stimpson’s original proposed budget that eliminated $650,000 from Visit Mobile/MCVB’s operating budget.

Their choice to level fund Visit Mobile/MCVB by restoring the $650,000 is greatly appreciated. We just cannot understand why the tourism ambassadors’ service is being terminated, even if that choice is only temporary.

Although we do not yet understand the full implications of removing the Fort Conde Visitors Center’s 2017 operating budget, it is clear that the administration has, at least for the time being, decided to dis-invite the volunteer service of dedicated men and women who love their city and really enjoy providing assistance to our city’s visitors.

We are very saddened by the fact the administration has continually devalued our service and commitment by not considering the implications of continually changing management at the visitors center. In 16 years, the visitors center has been transferred from the MCVB to the History Museum and then back to MCVB. In all those changes, the volunteers of the visitors center at Fort Conde have remained loyal to serving our city. Now we are being told to stay home.

Politics really just does not comprehend why we serve our fellow travelers. It is as old as the historical times when people opened their homes to assist people traveling away from their homelands. It is a shame the administration cannot provide the same level of hospitality to those of us who choose to provide hospitality to our city’s visitors.

Ronald Francis David Hunt