Tourism professionals extend education


Kathy Witt has completed the second portion of a three-year professional development program that will lead to certification as a Tourism Marketing Professional (TMP).

Witt was one of 285 tourism professionals enrolled at the Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College earlier this month. The week-long program turns the facilities of North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega, Georgia into a laboratory to teach tourism marketing each summer.

There is no other professional development program like the STS Marketing College. It is recognized nationally for its training of tourism leaders. TMP certification has been earned by 474 people.

“In the tourism industry, TMP certification carries a lot of weight,” said Bill Hardman, president and CEO of the Southeast Tourism Society, a 12-state organization that promotes travel and tourism in the southeast.

Witt is vice president of Laurie Rowe Communications (LRC), destination marketing specialists who also provide professionally-written content and tourism marketing services. The company has clients based in the southeast and is currently promoting the Marietta, Georgia event, “70 Years of Gone With the Wind, A Re-Premiere,” among its many projects. LRC will launch a newly-designed website later this month.

AT STS Marketing College, Witt was steeped in curriculum covering topics such as family vacation research, special events marketing, media relations, and creative advertising. Heritage tourism and community/rural tourism are courses that have attracted special interest in recent years.

“I am already putting into practice many of the things that I learned during STS Marketing College,” said Witt.

The marketing college attracts students from throughout the southeast and occasionally from other states. This year’s program included students from Texas and Arizona.

“The Southeast Tourism Society is recognized nationwide for the cohesiveness and camaraderie it fosters in the region. No other region has a similar organization. Our marketing college is a major project to build skills and professionalism in the tourism industry,” Hardman said.

The 12 STS states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. STS headquarters are in Atlanta, Georgia.

LRC helps tourisms venues, destinations, and communities find their voice and give it full expression. For the Destination Marketing Organization, LRC provides creative conceptualization and professionally-written content for press kits, press releases, travel guides, brochures, editorial stories, ads, multi-use snappy slogans, leisure and group travel itineraries, websites, and social media and offers these new packages: the Multiuse Quick-Response BlurbsSM to fulfill media inquiries and ad content and for anytime you need quick, concise, and creative content; the LRC Travel News ByteSM: a four-part professional editorial package. For the media, LRC provides Content Pros: Pros Producing Professionally Written Editorial Provided to MediaSM, has the expertise to fulfill all content needs and provides downloadable, captioned and credited high- and low-res images for all our clients. For more information, contact LRC at 850-215-0558;

STS is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of tourism throughout the southeast. It was founded in 1983 with eight member states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and Arkansas joined later. Membership is approaching 1,000 individuals who represent a wide range of travel-related businesses and organizations. For more information, contact STS at 404-364-9847;