Gaining Valuable Experience in the Sustainable Tourism Industry: Meet Alyssa Stroker

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The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (PRTM), which is home to Tourism Extension, helps student gain valuable experiences through its internship program. This summer Alyssa Stroker (PRTM major specializing in Sustainable Tourism, class of 2020) was an intern at the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB).

Image of Alyssa Stroker

Alyssa Stroker, undergraduate student majoring in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, with a Sustainable Tourism Concentration, at NC State University (Class of 2020)

We asked Alyssa the following two questions about her internship. Her responses demonstrate that she is a raising star in the sustainable tourism field. We look forward to keeping track of her career after graduation.

1. How did your PRTM coursework prepare you for this internship?
The courses I have taken thus far in the PRTM program have proven to be beneficial and set me up for success for my internship at the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB). The GRCVB is a fast paced agency with multiple moving parts and components of operation. I quickly adapted by utilizing effective time management and organizational skills to manage a variety of ongoing projects. Although unlike my PRTM courses, many of my projects had open deadlines, which required me to decide what tasks were high priority and to act accordingly. Group work is a consistent theme with PRTM coursework and has taught me applicable skills including flexibility, creativity, communication skills, problem-solving and decision-making skills, as well as responding to feedback. These skills aided me during my internship as I tackled each day with an open mind eager to absorb as much during my internship. PRTM courses are very proactive and provide students with opportunities in the field interacting and networking with industry professionals to gain valuable experiences. Overall, the PRTM program has encouraged me to take up every opportunity to improve professional development and personal advancement during the remainder of my undergraduate career and into my career path.
2. In the GRCVB Tourism Talk blog in which you were featured, you mentioned that “I am particularly interested in serving marginalized communities that could greatly benefit from the introduction of tourism in a sustainable and calculated approach.” This a key function of Tourism Extension. What types of research is needed to generate information and training programs that can help build sustainable tourism opportunities with marginalized communities?

Tourism sustainability is now essential. In established and developed destinations we must change the way consumers travel and how the tourism industry operates, however, in marginalized and undeveloped regions, we have the leverage to invite structured tourism with the basis of sustainability and communitarian entrepreneurship. People travel for a variety of reasons, but a primary purpose involves experiencing the behaviors and customs of the host community. Resultantly, sustainable tourism has various different layers and dimensions of concern regarding economic, environmental, and socio-cultural elements. Although topics such as transportation, infrastructure development, and accommodations are important to consider, the quality of life for the host community is just as important to protect. My passion concerns uplifting a region by empowering the locals and highlighting their talents and cultural expertise. Research from here forward should be executed with a utilitarian approach that will benefit all members and groups of the host community.

 

Research questions should analyze the domestic resources of the region that could be of interest or attractive to tourists, while avoiding resource scarcity. This includes examining environmental resources in addition to the talents and skills of the natives to derive tourism interest. Research should examine how to invest in the locals’ talents and leadership to connect with global markets. Indigenous tourism should promote microentreprenuers and endorse authentic, signature experiences. In regions that are poorly represented, integration of tourism approaches should support local cooperatives and associations. It is important to explore technological advancements that could empower the most alienated segments. Kiva and Oxfam, among other operations support grassroot organizations and encourage self-determination to earn a communities way out of dependency. Emancipating the most vulnerable communities involves more than analyzing the resources and opportunities available, but includes examining ways to increase income and transform communities with lasting impacts. To enhance the livelihoods of poverty stricken areas, approaches should provide the locals with resources and advanced knowledge necessary to empower the community to mitigate poverty and fuel equitable development.

You can learn more about Alyssa’s experiences in the GRCVB Tourism Talk blog featuring the 2019 summer interns.