Members of the student consulting group de Tour Ahead present their five-year tourism plan to Redfield city officials. Pictured from left to right, Carmen Foster,Kathleen Swanson, Codi Miller and Tawny Reese. Black Hills State University students in the Tourism Planning and Development course spent the semester creating tourism plans for the City of Redfield. The group, De Tour Ahead, was chosen as the overall best presentation and proposal. 
A semester’s worth of research, interviews, site visits and planning culminated this week as four teams of Black Hill State University tourism students presented their vision for the future of the City of Redfield.

The student teams, who are in Dr. Ignatius Cahyanto’s Tourism Planning and Development class, each created a five-year sustainable tourism plan for the city, located in the north east part of South Dakota. One group’s plan was chosen as the best.

“I believe the best way to inspire students is through real life experience,” said Cahyanto, assistant professor of business. “This experience allows students to relate the course materials to these situations.”

The plans were evaluated by Cahyanto, Barbara Zwetzig, the director of the BHSU Center for Business, Entrepreneurship & Tourism, as well as Redfield city officials.

“This is clearly more fun for the students, with an opportunity to know the client and see their situation,” Zwetzig said. “I think these projects help create a positive buzz about our students and their evolving capabilities and fresh perspective – something our mature communities very much appreciate.”

Two Redfield city representatives attended the presentations earlier this week with a goal of taking one plan back to present to the Redfield City Council.

“You guys gave us some ideas that are really going to help,” according to Kathy Maddox, chairperson of the Redfield tourism board and curator at the Historic Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Depot.

While all the proposals presented a wide-range of ideas for Redfield, the winning consulting team was de Tour Ahead. Team members included Codi Miller, tourism and hospitality major from Amidon, N.D.; Katie Swanson, business administration tourism major from Cheyenne, Wyo.; Carmen Foster, tourism and hospitality major from Ft. Pierre; and Tawny Reese, tourism and hospitality major from Sundance,Wyo. The team will receive $200 and a gift basket from the City of Redfield, along with the possibility of their plan being used as a tourism roadmap for Redfield.

“The overall presentation was well done and professional, both oral and written documents,” according to Shelly Wipf, Redfield assistant finance officer and head of the tourism department. “The ideas given are doable and it is nice to see suggested web sites companies, cookbook companies, calendar, billboards, rally magazine, etc.”

The partnership between BHSU and Redfield came after a member of Redfield’s tourism board suggested members contact the University to see if the students could  help devise a plan to enhance tourism.

Known as the Pheasant Capital of the World, Redfield is known for its hunting; however, Wipf said the city needs something after hunters are done or for their families who don’t hunt.

The student consultants presented several ideas that could benefit the city including: billboards along the city’s main arteries Hwy 212 and Hwy 218 to attract day trippers and Sturgis traffic; year-round festivals and events including a Pheasant cook-off; transforming the Depot into the city visitor center as well as an event center; updating the city’s website; and incorporating social media.

The groups also suggested increasing personnel to focus on tourism, including the addition of a college intern, and working to unite all city organizations, businesses and individuals into the common goal of enhancing tourism.

As part of the project, many of the students traveled to Redfield, some for the first time, to talk with city officials and community members and get a sense of what their goals are for Redfield’s tourism future.

Visiting Redfield was vital to fully comprehending Redfield’s strengths and weaknesses and developing a complete tourism roadmap, Reese said.

Kari Rogers, a tourism and hospitality major from Gettysburg, said she has been to Redfield numerous times; however, the site visit for the tourism plan provided a different perspective of the city.

The students and faculty said the semester-long project was much more than a classroom assignment. “It is something that is going to be implemented,” Reese said.

As a tourism planner and researcher, Cahyanto has helped many communities around the world in planning their tourism in a sustainable way. “I like bringing my experience into the classroom,” he said.

“I think this is an eye opener for the students who are going into the tourism field,” he said.  Through a project like this, students are able to apply tourism planning theories to respond to change in real life situations, he said.

Cahyanto plans on doing a similar project next fall in the same class using another South Dakota town.

 “This is a huge project to tackle, but I am impressed by the quality of their work,” he said. “It is my intention that after students leave my class, they understand what it means to be a good tourism planner.”