Heather Blanchard of the Johns Creek Convention & Visitors Bureau has completed the first portion of a three-year professional development program that will lead to certification as a Tourism Marketing Professional (TMP).
Blanchard, who won two full scholarships to the college, was one of 233 tourism professionals enrolled at the Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College last month. The week-long program turns the facilities of North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega into a laboratory to teach tourism marketing each summer.
There is no other professional development program like STS Marketing College, and it is recognized nationally for its training of tourism leaders. 626 people have earned TMP certification.
“In the tourism industry, TMP certification carries a lot of weight,” said Bill Hardman, president and CEO of the Southeast Tourism Society, a 12-state organization that promotes travel and tourism in the Southeast.
The STS Marketing College began in 1992 to provide continuing education for tourism professionals and feted its 21st anniversary this year. Tourism ranks as the first-, second- or third-largest industry in each STS member state. Students come from convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, attractions, hotels and other segments of the tourism industry.
The curriculum covers topics such as branding, social media, packaging and sports marketing. Heritage tourism and research are courses that have attracted special interest in recent years.
“The fundamental concept of STS Marketing College is that the curriculum is practical. What students learn can be put to practice as soon as they get back to their workplaces,” Hardman said.
Twenty-three senior executives in the travel and tourism industry were the volunteer faculty.
The program attracts students from throughout the Southeast and occasionally from other states. This year’s program included students from Maryland and Oklahoma.
“Southeast Tourism Society is recognized nationwide for the cohesiveness and camaraderie it fosters in the region. No other region in the U.S. has a similar organization. STS Marketing College is a major project to build skills and professionalism in the tourism industry,” Hardman said.
Southeast Tourism Society, created in 1983, is headquartered in Atlanta and has approximately 800 members who represent travel industry businesses, state tourism departments, chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus and travel media. Its activities include cooperative marketing programs, continuing education, professional development and travel industry policy advocacy. More about STS can be found at southeasttourism.org.
The 12 STS states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
The Johns Creek Convention & Visitors Bureau serves as the official destination marketing organization for the city of Johns Creek and uses a variety of marketing efforts to attract business and leisure travelers to Johns Creek hotels, restaurants, shopping, attractions and special events. For more information about the JCCVB, visit www.JohnsCreekCVB.com