Eastern Michigan University Department of Geography and Geology sponsors regional heritage tourism conference

For Immediate Release

EMU Department of Geography and Geology

Grosse Ile, MI – March 12, 2010 – Hometown History Tours is pleased to announce that Eastern Michigan University’s Department of Geography and Geology is a Southeast Michigan Heritage Tourism Ambassador (SEMHTA) and will co-host the first Southeast Michigan Heritage Tourism Networking Event: Capitalizing On Our Local History.

The March 18th conference held at the Stone Creek Banquet Center in Flat Rock promotes a regional approach to utilizing local history and culture as a magnet to draw tourist dollars to the area.

Event organizer Karin Risko, the founder and director of Hometown History Tours, is thrilled with the partnership.

“This began as a grassroots, single person effort to try and make a difference in uplifting the morale of the people in our region by bringing together expert guest speakers to showcase and promote our vibrant history. To get an organization with the stature of Eastern Michigan University to sign on and help with this message is fantastic.”

“My department wants to support this event for several reasons,” says Dr. Richard Sambrook, department head of Eastern Michigan University’s Department of Geography and Geology.

“Tourism and tourism development has always been the fallback service industry in Michigan during times of economic transition, especially boom and bust cycles in key industries.  Therefore, now is an exciting time to be actively involved in tourism development as the State of Michigan begins to both market and envision itself as a national and especially international destination. The Great Lakes truly are a world wonder that should be toured and enjoyed by all.”

EMU’s Geography and Geology department trains students at both the graduate and undergraduate level in a combination of hybrid skills that allows them to assume leadership roles in an evolving system of interrelated industries.  Programs include a tourism (soon to be called geo-tourism) concentration within the undergraduate Geography degree program, an accredited undergraduate urban and regional planning program, as well as graduate level programs in URP, Geographic Information Systems, and Historic Preservation.

“Few folks know our applied Historic Preservation Program is the largest, and among the oldest, graduate level programs in the country,” says Dr. Sambrook. “The program just celebrated its 30th anniversary, and we currently have over 100 graduate students in house.

Concentrations within the Heritage Preservation Program include preservation planning, historic administration, and heritage interpretation and tourism.  The university offers a five-course graduate level certification program in historic preservation, and an undergraduate minor.”

At the conference, Dr. Sambrook will provide details regarding the expansion of the department’s service role. The Historic Preservation Program now includes a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Michigan History Foundation and the Michigan Historical Commission to ensure the continuation of the Michigan Historical Marker Program.

“We are very proud to say the text of the next ten historical markers will be composed by our graduate students. They’ll be part of the entire process including the official placing of the marker in the host communities.”

Several EMU faculty members and students will accompany Dr. Sambrook to the heritage tourism networking event.

“We are anxious to meet kindred professionals working in the exciting realm of cultural/heritage tourism where we seek internship opportunities for our students and opportunities to collaborate on sustainable tourism development initiatives,” says Dr. Sambrook.

Eastern Michigan University’s Department of Geography and Geology joins Opportunity Grosse Ile, Monroe County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Hometown History Tours as ambassadors/co-hosts of the first Southeast Michigan Heritage Tourism Networking Event: Capitalizing On Our Local History.

The event features an impressive speaker lineup including Travel Michigan’s David Lorenz. Tickets are $28 per person or $250 for a table of ten. For further information on this event, call 734.642.5712 or view details online at www.hometownhistorytours.com.

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