Gulfport Students Get Rare Look At Tourism Industry

More than a dozen Gulfport High School students got to experience something only a few hotel guests get to enjoy. They toured one of the lavish VIP suites at the Beau Rivage Resort.

Pam Ladner-Jones is the Training Manager at the Beau. She showed off one suite and said "This suite is only comped out to our high rollers. So no matter how much money you have, you can't buy this room for the night".

Rachel Melville seemed impressed with the tour. She said "I've always been interested in locations and just going places and travel and tourism".

Melville is one of 48-students who got a rare view of the Biloxi property, from the hotel rooms to the restaurants. She's enrolled in the Academy of Travel and Tourism at Gulfport High.

Melville said "It's a lot of business and fun. It tells you about the hospitality industry and about things you can do and what jobs are out there".

David Allen is the Coordinator of the Academy. He said "We want them to see from the industry experts exactly what goes on, and the typical jobs in travel and tourism. By doing a familiarization tour of the best places on the Coast, they're able to see first hand what goes on behind the scenes".

The students learned there's more to casino jobs than just dealers and cocktail waitresses.  They also found out some secrets about the casino industry, and the perks that come with working there. Some of the benefits include discounted hotel rooms and free meals.

The goal of the tour is to spark students' interest in the hospitality industry. So far, it's working. Alisha Williams said "I want to travel around the world, and I think this is a good program to get into to fulfill what I want to do".

When they finish their junior year, some of the students will get the opportunity to work as an intern at the casino. Melville said "I think it's great. It's very big, and I want to work here. It's very nice". '

Since the program started three years ago, ten students have landed jobs in the casino industry, hotels and at the Biloxi-Gulfport International Airport. It's so popular, Gulfport High plans to start an Academy of Finance next year.