BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Bay County Tourist Development Council wants to provide more training for Bay County’s largest industry.
They’re considering more tourism educational opportunities for younger generations.
“We’re an all-American beach town with some really great opportunities,” TDC Executive Director Dan Rowe said.
TDC members want to start a career program at the high school level, encouraging students to join the tourism industry.
“It’s something new for the TDC,” he said. “We have not done this before, so we’re really taking the time to make sure that we go through this program and develop it well and that we’re partnering with every level of local education institutions to make sure that we have a complete, comprehensive program that will really help our students get jobs, keep jobs to make some money, but also to increase the customer service that we’re providing our visitors because ultimately, the TDC is about increasing economic opportunity through visitor spending.”
Last Thursday, Gulf Coast State College received a record-breaking $2.5 million donation from local lawyer Julie Hilton, which helps expand the college’s hospitality and tourism program.
“Her 2.5 million dollar investment in our local community is just awesome,” Rowe said. “I think it’s gonna really have benefits for years to come, and we’re very excited to start providing scholarships for the students that will be attending that hospitality school.”
Rowe said keeping local students in the area for their hospitality careers is ideal.
“Those kids that are really entrepreneurs, they want to build their career in the hospitality industry to keep them local so they can have the world-class education while they’re still staying in Bay County is just awesome,” he said.
The next step is refining the details of the program with the entire TDC board, according to Rowe.
“This is something that is new but we want to build it off of a strong foundation,” he said. “When we start it, it’s going to be a great benefit now and then down the road.”
Once approved, the proposal will go to Bay County commissioners.