National Tourism Week

I’ve been eating quite well this week! I think the best way to break down this week may, in fact, be by using food.

On Monday I attended a team-building session with the zoo marketing team. We did a scavenger hunt (which, admittedly, consisted mostly of eating bread and drinking coffee at Columbia in the Tampa Bay History Center), took the new “zoo express” water taxi ride which brings guests from downtown Tampa directly to the zoo via pirate water taxi, and we finished at the Florida Aquarium (funny since I just wrapped up my other internship there!) with a fantastic lunch. I decided to stay past lunch in order to be a part of the marketing meeting that followed. The staff reflected on the past year’s events in a very warm, open environment lead by the Senior VP/Chief Marketing Officer.

Tuesday I went back to my normal diet, but by Wednesday I was being spoiled again. Last week was National Tourism Week, and as such there were luncheons held each day to celebrate. Wednesday’s was at the Bryan Glazer JCC and it was fabulous! Busch Gardens was a large sponsor and provided us with entertainment, centerpieces, and gift bags to take home. Bay News 9’s Veronica Cintron was the host for the event and kept the event moving very smoothly. Awards were given, the impacts of tourism on the local economy was discussed, we ate a great lunch, and called it a day.

Thursday was another day to recover from the food, but by Friday I was right back at it. Friday’s luncheon was held at the Tradewinds Resort in St. Pete. It was the first time I had the chance to visit and I am so glad I had the chance to go. The lunch was held outside in their permanent tent fixture. While it wasn’t as exciting as Wednesday’s lunch with the dance performances, there was still a lot to be learned as our guest speaker discussed what happens to tourism/what may happen to tourism in an uncertain economy. I just finished up Economics & Finance for Sustainability class and was pretty excited when I understood the language he was using and was able to keep up! (Thanks professors!) I carpooled to this event with the catering manager at the zoo and she is close friends with an employee at Tradewinds who, after the event, volunteered to walk us around the property and show us the different guest rooms/ballrooms/outdoor areas. It was an impressive resort, for sure! Next time I’ve got to pop over next-door to the Guy Harvey Outpost (which they measure in “flip flops away” distance!)

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It’s now Saturday and all I’ve eaten for dinner is popcorn because I’m still coming down from this week’s food-load! What really stood out to me about this week is how welcoming the marketing department was towards their interns. We were invited to these events (even the meeting & team-building day!) and were treated as any other employee in the group. We lucked out that there was room at these lunches, and our boss was kind enough to extend an invitation to us.

Now that classes have finished it’s been nice to be able to spend so much time at/with the zoo and get to know new people! This internship has truly been a wonderful experience. I’m so glad I get to continue.

Now, on a non-food note, I have been working on my capstone project, auditing the narrations in the park and have heard quite a few so far. On Monday I’ll head back in and spend the whole day visiting the different talks/encounters/etc. Can’t wait to report back again! In the meantime…I’m gonna go digest.

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