The hospitality management program at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth is adding a new degree designed for the student interested in a career in travel, culture, and adventure.
“I have been thinking about introducing this concentration for some time,” says Dawn Comito, chair of the program and its lead professor. “Through the educational partnerships that we have developed with various businesses and organizations, we determined there is a need in tourism and events and it’s growing.”
According to Comito, the new tourism and events concentration appeals to the student who is passionate about planning and managing travel, tourism, and event experiences. “It was developed in direct response to requests from students who expressed an interested in tourism and event trends, says Comito, brought on in part by companies like Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Instagram, and Pinterest which have transformed the hospitality industry.
“Travel trends are moving away from the stampede of mass tourism to a more local, sustainable approach,” Comito says. “Millennials love going local, even when traveling internationally. They want to experience the city on a bike, for example, and really engage with locals rather than sit on a tour bus and view the sites.”
“They prefer to support small independent shops and markets, to eat where the locals eat and maybe even stay in residential neighborhoods at an Airbnb. All of this helps to sustain the future of tourism because it spreads the wealth, gives back to the locals and doesn’t erode the local culture. Uncontrolled tourism can spoil all of the special things that attracted us to a destination in the first place. Sustainable tourism seeks to preserve it, and in many cases enhance it, especially when it comes to the environment,” Comito says.
“In addition, the specialty area of events is also growing at a rapid pace. An event like a music festival, can enrich a tourism experience or in the case of a destination wedding, it can be the prime motivator for visiting,” says Comito.
Overall, she says, the events field is expected to grow by about 10 percent annually, with higher growth rates in the entertainment, commercial recreation, and special events sectors.
Prospective entrepreneurs will also find value in this program, Comito says. “It’s going to be appealing if you want to take your passion or interest to the next level and create a business out of it,” she says. The program can help individuals who love fly fishing, ocean kayaking or planning social events to develop a business featuring these personalized, authentic, experiences.
Great Bay will take advantage of its location in one of NH's top tourism regions. Students will have access to a variety of tourism and event internships and job placement opportunities with Hospitality Management partners that include Strawbery Banke Museum and The Walt Disney Company, Comito says.
Students who complete the program will be prepared to work in parks and cultural centers, at resorts, tourism attractions, and event centers, as tour directors, recreation managers, camp directors, travel advisors, event planners, or adventure guides.
Comito will teach a few of the tourism-related classes. And she will bring in event planning and sports tourism experts from the area to teach other specialized courses. The Associate in Science degree and related certificate programs prepare students to work with hotels, spas, country clubs, restaurants, cruise lines, travel and tourism organizations. For more information on the Hospitality Management Associate in Science Degree program at Great Bay Community College, visit www.greatbay.edu/courses/degree-programs