History…

Summer is over.  It went by too quickly for my liking.  One moment it was May, and then boom, it’s September, and am back an university.

Johnstown, PA
My hometown, Johnstown PA.

I traveled back home this summer as I usually do.  I love my hometown.  Of course most would say the same about their own hometowns, but there is something special about Johnstown.  There is a spirit there that really draws me back.  I know right now times are hard for the area, having lost it major industry–steel.  Yet, our strong, never die spirit pervades our psyche and governs our lives, even if we are living some place else.  Yes, Dorothy, you can go home again.

During this trip, I definitely wanted to travel the back roads and see some things I hadn’t seen before.  I wanted to do some genealogy research and visit old haunts to aid in the development and teaching of my classes.

So, let’s talk about my two classes this semester.  I am on release for other responsibilities and only teaching two courses–Development of Tourist Attractions and People Process Culture (PPC). This first post is devoted to the former, while weaving some of the latter.  The second post in this series will focus in on PPC.  The first is just as the name implies:

This course is a study of the impacts resulting from tourism development. It is designed to explore techniques utilized to maximize beneficial impacts and minimize negative, undesirable ones.~~Course Description for HT 340 (UW Stout).

I have this detailed project that entails examining an attraction of the student’s choice. It is viewed as a daunting task at the beginning of the semester, and yet, I gear the assignments and discussion towards completing the final project.  By the end, some really think it is worthwhile.

The first assignment deals with determining your attraction and then researching data, information about that attraction.  They are basically starting their bibliography.  The second assignment is beginning to compose the first section of the project devoted to preliminary assessment.  Basically, the students are charged with investigating the attraction, it’s history, the attraction development, and the area in which it is embedded.

Tourism Umbrella
Tourism Umbrella
Walker, 4th Edition, 2006 Pearson; Fig 1.1

My quest this summer was to pay particular attention to this section and gain some pictures, information–an experience to aid my students.  So, what did I need to do?  What questions should the students be asking themselves as they find information?  Well, the key here is to utilize the tourism umbrella to answer a host of questions and to aid you in finding information.

  1. What type of an attraction is it?
  2. Location–find a map.  Transportation to and from your destination/attraction
  3. What lodging is there?  What competition is there?
  4. What other events compete or are hosted by your attraction?
  5. What food and beverage options are available?
  6. What reaction is around the area, other options for tourist to partake in?

And so forth.  The purpose of this project is to determine if your attraction is successful or if new, could it be successful.

I have one student interested in examining Notre Dame Cathedral and the fire that ravaged it this past summer.  If they agree to do Notre Dame in Paris, the student and I will be meeting, and tweaking the project in order to analyze how the famous site will have to come back to be successful again.  The student will have to identify strategies to help it become successful.  I am hopeful that the student will challenge themselves to accomplish this.

In the past, this project, for a student, has helped them gained a job out in industry.  They took the finished project with them to the interview and was hired based on their work.  This is why I love working here at a poly-technical university.  It’s about innovation, creativity, and application in real world problems.  I explained this to the Notre Dame student and their eyes lit up.

But getting back to my journey this summer.

My friend Mark
My friend Mark

I met up with a good friend of mine from high school, and we headed out on old Route 30/Lincoln Highway because of my little idea.  Mark is an adventurous sort, like me.  He loves the back roads.  Our first stop was for lunch at one of the oldest taverns in Pennsylvania–The Jean Bonnet.  The one aspect of this trip that we talked about over lunch was the history of the tavern.  I pointed out that the Declaration of Independence was probably read aloud at the tavern due to the fact that the document was printed in a host of newspapers, and that the Declaration was developed and composed in Philadelphia at the other end of the state.  Examining the history of an attraction, a destination aids to understand its success.

If I was studying the Jean Bonnet for this course, I will need to study it’s history of development to aid me in conducting that preliminary assessment, and why, unlike other taverns, does it continue to operate.  Why has it been so successful to remain open?  Yet, also, ask the hard questions about that success.  Has it remained open continiously?  Will it remain open?  What makes it so unique that it remains open?  What elements of the tourism umbrella does it have that contributes to its success?  Is it because the tavern is located on a major crossroads that bisect the state of PA?  Is it because it has a combination of lodging and meals?  It’s location to other attractions, activities?  A host of questions should be asked.  Within the project document, they are asked to compose their thoughts about their attraction as well as answer these basic questions and more.  I offer up a list of questions that they should cover, and explain that there could be more to be answered.

For PPC, this is about organizational behavior and how businesses run, treat all their stakeholders.  We will cover this in the next post.

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