Business and economic development leaders in France's Loire Valley
should take full advantage of the country's strong tourism industry,
says a University of Southern Mississippi professor.
Dr. David Butler,
an assistant professor and director of the international development
doctoral program at Southern Miss, recently presented a program
to Loire Valley business and community leaders based on research
conducted by himself and a group of graduate students from Southern
Miss and other universities. Butler's presentation focused on the
economic impact of tourism in the area, where Southern Miss' popular
study abroad program, The Abbey at Pontlevoy, is located.
five graduate students from Southern Miss and other universities
last summer, Butler presented information collected from 1,100 surveys
dealing with economic impact issues to chateau owners, tourism officials
and other business leaders.
also visited Ireland to set up contacts for similar research abroad
programs for May and June of this year.
issues that we presented were that 33 percent of the tourists (in
this area) come from France, 21 percent from the United States and
11 percent from Canada," he said, adding that the longer tourists
stay in the area, the more money they spend with local businesses.
population, approximately 80 million, doubles each year because
of tourism, Butler said. As recently as 2000, tourism constituted
12 percent of the country's gross domestic product, he said.
to the area's business and tourism leaders that brand imaging should
be pursued for the Loire Valley to present it as a tourist destination
in and of itself to potential visitors from outside France. "Tourism
is becoming a major component (in the Loire Valley) of revenue growth,"
The Abbey are also impacting the area's economy, Butler said. In
one year since the program's implementation, Butler and his students'
research showed that businesses that cater to the students at The
Abbey enjoyed a 10-15 percent increase in revenue.
The Loire Valley's
two main industries include tourism and grape production, Butler
said. "I would suspect that with wine production becoming stagnant
because of competition, tourism is becoming a major component (in
the area) of revenue growth," he said.
The Abbey Program
sends Southern Miss undergraduates together with students from the
universities affiliated with The Abbey Consortium to study for a
semester in France. Students live and learn in the historic abbey
of Pontlevoy, which was founded in 1034 and is one of France's most
revered historic monuments. Accompanied by professors, students
also spend a week living and learning in Paris, with the city and
its historic monuments serving as their classroom. Unlike many semester
abroad programs, The Abbey teaches general education classes that
allow for participation by sophomores and even freshmen.
The 2004 Abbey
Program will be the largest ever cohort for study in France, said
Southern Miss Provost Dr. Tim Hudson, who also serves as executive
director for the Southern Miss CICE. "The road toward academic
excellence and career success are paved for our students in the
global marketplace of ideas and experience," Hudson said.
and universities met with leaders of Southern Miss' Center for International
and Continuing Education in January at the Gulf Coast Conference
Center , where plans were made for international education activities
and study-abroad programs to be run by Southern Miss and its consortium
partners at The Abbey of Pontlevoy, in Pontlevoy, France.
With the recent
addition of Loyola University of New Orleans, Dr. Douglas Mackaman,
director of The Abbey study abroad program for Southern Miss and
an associate professor of history, said The Abbey now has partner
schools for Southern Miss all over the United States.
Miss' excellence in international education is no secret, and universities
searching for outstanding programs abroad know they will find that
with us," Mackaman said.
is a great opportunity for Loyola students to get experience abroad,"
said Debbie Danna, director of Loyola's Center for International
never sent a single student on a semester program of any kind, nor
have we sent a single student to France before on any program,"
said Dr. Larry Williams, director of International Programs at Midwestern
State University. Ten students from Midwestern took part in the
program in February. "Almost thirty students from Wichita Falls,
Texas, will have had a semester in Europe because of The Abbey and
Southern Miss," Williams said.
For more information
about The Abbey semester abroad program or any summer study-abroad
program, contact the Southern Miss Center for International and
Continuing Education at 266-4344 or visit the English Language Institute,