December 20, 2014  

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Southern Miss Students Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast to Better Understand Tourism

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University of Southern Mississippi students are welcomed to the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art by Julie Gustafson. Over 60 students and two faculty members made the Mississippi Gulf Coast their classroom as they toured various coast sites traveling to each location by trolley car. (University Communications photo by Charmaine Schmermund)

MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST – University of Southern Mississippi students learned firsthand about the Mississippi Gulf Coast through the eyes of a tourist. Traveling by trolley cars to various coast sites, more than 60 students and two faculty members made the Mississippi Gulf Coast their classroom on Wednesday, Nov. 2.

The field experience, comprised of students from the university’s Hattiesburg campus and Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, gave students the opportunity to learn more about coast tourism. Beginning at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tour featured the Mississippi Coast Convention Center, the Coast Transit Authority Depot, the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art and the Island View Casino Resort.

“I think this is great that we are riding the trolley on our tour because this is something an actual tourist would experience when they are here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said Daniel Benton of Gulfport, a sophomore majoring in business management. “Taking this tour from the visitors’ point-of-view really gives us insight as opposed to being led behind the scenes.”

In addition to a property tour at the Island View Casino Resort, the students were welcomed by Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. The tour also featured presentations from Lindsey Inman, CEO of Island View Casino Resort, and John McFarland, chairman of the Gulf Coast Regional Tourism Partnership.

“I have been amazed by the different facets of the tourism industry,” added Benton. “Being able to talk to the leaders and professionals involved in this industry is certainly a great benefit for our students.”

Dr. Catherine Price, chair and professor in the university’s Department of Casino, Hospitality and Tourism Management, believes that “a picture is worth a thousand lectures” when it comes to students’ education.

“The more students see, the better they understand the diversity of the industry and of different destinations,” said Price. “The students also meet and hear from very successful people in the industry which provides role models for them when visualizing their future in the tourism industry. This is truly an eye opening experience for our students.”

Faculty in the Department of Casino, Hospitality and Tourism Management understand the importance of these tours for their students. Previous field experiences have explored the coast’s eco-tourism industry and the casino industry.

For more information about the Department of Casino, Hospitality and Tourism Management, visit www.usm.edu/business/casino-hospitality-tourism_management.