National Tourism Foundation Goal
Twenty years after it began, the National Tourism Foundation's goal remains the same as it did in 1982: to promote education and research in the travel and tourism industry. The goal may be steadfast, but the changes resulting in the pursuit of the goal have been impressive.?
We were totally involved in education (in the first years of the Foundation),? said Marilane Spencer, CTP, the first NTF president and owner/president of Bixler Tours in Hiram, Ohio . ?We wanted to broaden the scope of the many opportunities that entry-level workers experience when they enter the group tour industry. But it wasn?t easy ? the first years were pretty turbulent.?
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NTF began in 1982 as a fledgling organization committed to increasing education in the travel industry, but with little funding to back it up. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than 400 scholarships, grants, awards and internships valued at more than $1.5 million.
According to Lois Anderson, NTF chair in 1987, 1988 and 1993 and owner of Gadabout Tours Inc. in Palm Springs , Calif. , the road has not always been smooth. ?It floundered for several years,? Anderson said. ?We didn?t really have the funding to make it successful. We needed to earn our own funds.?
The first of many integral Foundation events created to earn those funds was the Silent Auction during NTA?s 1986 Annual Convention. ?It was a marvelous success,? recalls Anderson . ?That first auction called attention to the Foundation. People became interested.?
The Live Auction was added to the Annual Convention in 1988. The auctions, which benefit education while simultaneously earning recognition for donors, are popular events at Convention and have helped NTF become an independent nonprofit organization.
Many exciting support opportunities have been developed through the years to help fund NTF scholarships and research, including the popular Rock the Foundation event (sponsored by the Hard Rock Cafe) and the NTF Golf Tournament.
Scholarships and Research
NTF?s scholarship program also has thrived. A total of $5,000 in scholarships was awarded in 1982. In 2005, the Foundation is offering 37 awards worth more than $140,000, including scholarships at all levels: high school, technical/vocational, two-year, four-year, master?s and doctorate. The scholarships are sponsored by states, provinces, private entities and corporations.
NTF has also had a major impact in the field of travel- related research and has developed studies such as the invaluable Tour Traveler Index, which explores tour travelers? behaviors and trip preferences.
By promoting such research and investing in the education of the travel industry professionals of the future, NTF continues to create a better tour experience for both the industry professional and the traveler.
The Foundation is paving its own path to becoming a major force within the travel industry. NTF has seen many changes over the past 20 years, but it has remained focused on its mission: to benefit society through the support of education and research contributing to the values of travel and tourism, including personal enrichment, community development, heritage and natural preservation, and cultural understanding.