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Maryville College launches a new major focusing on hospitality and tourism

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development said Blount County ranked in the top ten for tourism revenue.

MARYVILLE, Tenn. — Maryville College is preparing a curriculum for a new major focusing on hospitality and tourism. The college's president said the program is unique because students will learn specifically about attractions in East Tennessee. 

The major is called Hospitality and Regional Identity.  

"It's really helping students who go through this major develop an understanding and respect for the region where experiences occur," said Dr. Bryan Coker. 

Dr. Coker, the president of Maryville College, believes the field of study is essential as Blount County's economy grows. A report issued by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development said it ranked in the top ten counties for how much visitors spent, with more than $300 million from tourism revenue in 2020. 

"We've seen a lot of jobs created in the tourism industry, and the major that Maryville College is offering in tourism is going to help out a lot of the businesses here," said Jeff Muir, with the Blount County Chamber of Commerce.

Maryville College will also partner with RT lodge, a full-service hotel located on the campus, so students see all of the ins and outs of the hospitality industry.

"In working in a place like this, you get to see all different sides of things from guest services to serving tables, to the cleanup behind the scenes and everything in between," said one worker with the lodge.

It was established in 1932 and is one of the top wedding venues in East Tennessee.

Coker said discussions about the major have taken place over several years. He said pandemic-related increases in tourism made the timing right for announcing the new program.

A major in Hospitality and Regional Identity will require 58 credit hours; a minor will require 18 credit hours. Four new courses have been developed to focus on customer experience, marketing, management and operations, and regional identity through foods and beverages.

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