HGTC training students in field of sports tourism

Horry Georgetown Technical College has been given the go-ahead to develop an Associate's Degree in Sports Tourism. It will be the only 2-year program of its kind in South Carolina.

"People are beginning to call us and ask us how soon will we offer the program. Even statewide, some of the vice presidents are saying we're interested in knowing about how many jobs are going to be available for students who graduate from the program," Dr. Marilyn Fore, Vice President of HGTC said.

The decision to move forward with the program was approved Tuesday but Dr. Fore said it all started as a discussion between city leaders from North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach and HGTC. With new sports complexes in the works all across the area, they agreed there's a need for people to work at them.

"As soon as a business tells us they need someone trained, we listen, we respond, and we create a program when there's a demonstrated need for that," Dr. Fore said.

Right now, they're in the planning stages of the curriculum. The degree will focus on giving students the tools they need to work at any of the sports complexes and recreational facilities planned for the Grand Stand.

"They're going to need a very strong foundation in marketing, financial management, personnel management, supervisory skills, so it will go from also the background of understanding the sport and being able to coordinate all of that knowing the rules of the sports, but also the business aspects to make sure the facility is well run," Dr. Fore said.

City leaders from Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach have been key players in studying the impact of sports tourism on the area and the need for training people in the industry.

Matt Gibbons, Superintendent of Sports Tourism in North Myrtle Beach, said sports tourism is a billion dollar industry worldwide, and is growing rapidly in the area.

"This area is a perfect example of the type of impact and economic development that is made possible through sports tourism. I can't think of a better setting for this program that here in Horry County at HGTC," Gibbons said in a statement to NewsChannel 15.

The program still needs state approval before it can become official, but Dr. Fore said some of the required courses will be already available by next spring.