The Tennessee Department of Tourism Development stated that Blount County is in the top ten for tourism revenue.
MARYVILLE, Tennessee. Maryville College is preparing a curriculum for a new major in hospitality and tourism. The college president said the program is unique because students learn specifically about East Tennessee attractions.
The specialty is called “Hospitality and Regional Identity”.
“It really helps students who take this specialty develop understanding and respect for the region where the experience takes place,” said Dr. Brian Cocker.
Dr. Cocker, president of Maryville College, believes this area of study is essential as the Blount County economy grows. A report released by the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development states that it is in the top ten counties in terms of visitor spending, with over $300 million in tourism revenue in 2020.
“We’ve seen a lot of jobs created in the tourism industry and the major that Maryville College offers in tourism will help many businesses here,” said Jeff Muir of the Blount County Chamber of Commerce.
Maryville College will also partner with the RT Lodge, a full-service hotel located on campus so students can experience the ins and outs of the hospitality industry.
“When you work in a place like this, you get to see different sides of things, from serving guests to setting tables, cleaning backstage and everything in between,” said one of the lodge workers.
It was founded in 1932 and is one of the best wedding venues in East Tennessee.
Cocker said discussions about the major had been going on for several years. He said the rise in tourism associated with the pandemic made it a good time to announce the new program.
The degree in Hospitality and Regional Identity will require 58 credit hours; a minor will require 18 credit hours. Four new courses have been designed to focus on customer experience, marketing, management and operations, and regional identity through food and beverage.