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KNOXVILLE — Steve Morse, an expert in the economics of the travel and tourism industry, has received a special Shining Example Award from the chairman of the Southeast Tourism Society (STS), a professional association that promotes travel in a 12-state region.

Bill Hardman, right, president and CEO of the Southeast Tourism Society, presents Steve Morse the Southeast Tourism Society's "Chairman of the Board" Shining Example AwardMorse is director and economist of the Tourism Institute in the Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

“Steve is a talented academic who also understands the business workings of the tourism industry. He has developed a system that allows those who work in tourism to demonstrate to local officials and policymakers the economic impact tourism has on their communities,” said Rob Varley, executive director of Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism and chairman of STS.

In presenting the award, Varley praised Morse’s outreach and service to the tourism industry, noting that Morse also teaches at the Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College, a development program for working professionals; leads webinars; and speaks to numerous tourism conferences.

“Steve is an excellent communicator, and that’s important especially in the education of policymakers. His research about tourism’s local impact is eye-opening to many people. You don’t have to have a smokestack and a production line to be thought of as ‘economic development,'” Varley said.

The 2010 Shining Example Awards were presented at the 27th STS annual meeting in Greenville, S.C. They recognize achievements in marketing, promotion and tourism development throughout the Southeast.

STS President and CEO Bill Hardman said Morse, who was elected to the STS board of directors at the Greenville meeting, is an asset to STS and an ally to the tourism industry.

“His economic models and his understanding of tourism’s impact have fostered growth in tourism organizations across the Southeast. He’s very effective at helping convention and visitors bureaus and chambers of commerce explain how tourism truly is an economic development tool,” Hardman said.

Morse also is on the board of the Southeast States Chapter of the Travel and Tourism Research Association.

Founded in 1983, the Southeast Tourism Society ( is dedicated to the promotion and development of tourism in its member states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Its headquarters are in Atlanta. The membership includes state travel offices, attractions, hotels, motels, resorts, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, travel media and other travel-related organizations.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,