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Symposium boosts tourism
Connecticut's First Lady receives award

Tourism, worth $5 billion annually in Connecticut, is one of the engines driving the state's economy. UConn is spearheading efforts to build on the success of the industry through an international public-private network.

The University's Laboratory for Leisure, Tourism and Sport held a symposium in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on Wednesday to explore tourism in the state and build partnerships among academics and industry leaders in Connecticut, England, Cyprus and Greece.

First Lady Patty Rowland joined more than 40 invited guests, including Peter Arnold, dean of the School of Economics and Policy Studies at Lincoln University in England.

"We want faculty to be able to teach in other countries and have international faculty teach here," said Andrew Yiannakis, director of the lab. "Students should be able to study in other countries for a semester. This will encourage the growth of new ideas."

The lab, in the department of Sport, Leisure and Exercise Studies, is the first of its kind on the East Coast. The department's Ph.D. program in travel and tourism was established four years ago.

Chancellor and Provost for University Affairs Mark Emmert presented Connecticut's First Lady with an award for her contributions in promoting tourism in the state, saying she has been an extraordinary champion for tourism. Among her many contributions, she has made several commercials without compensation that air in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and has made a point of promoting tourism in her speeches.

"Mrs. Rowland has been an ambassador for Connecticut tourism," Yiannakis said. "Her unselfish efforts in promoting tourism are an inspiration for us all."

Mrs. Rowland said she shares the award with those present because they have worked for many years to promote international alliances. She also praised the work being done at UConn, saying the research and materials produced here will help her and overall tourism efforts.

Also in attendance were: Ed Dombroskas, executive director of the State Office of Tourism; Arthur Diedrick, chair of the special office of tourism in the Governor's Office; members of Connecticut's Tourism Council; executive directors of the tourism districts of Connecticut; and selected tourism business leaders.

Renu Sehgal-Aldrich