This story was written by Kelly Falkowski, FSView & Florida Flambeau
A top tourism researcher and professorat Florida State University's Dedman School of Hospitalitywas inducted last month into the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame by the state Commission on Tourism.
"It is very humbling to be recognized and placed aside legends like Walt Disney and Henry Flagler," said Mark Bonn, the inductee.
Bonn, selected from a line-up of nine nominees, became the first educator to receive this celebrated honor Aug. 17 in Orlando.
"It certainly makes the statement that the Florida Tourism Industry acknowledges education and the scholarly research produced by faculty at our institutions of higher learning," Bonn said.
Bonn was inducted during a dinner at the Governor's Conference on Tourism among 1,200 fellow tourism leaders.
"I used to play Division I baseball, and one time I struck out three times in front of about 10,000 people by a pitcher who would later be named an All-American," Bonn said. "This induction in front of 1,200 felt a lot better."
The Florida Tourism Hall of Fame was established in 2001to honor those individuals who positively affect the state of Florida's ability to succeed in impressing the mass amounts of visitors it hosts. Each year inductees are chosen by a panel representing Florida's tourism industry, and honored during the annual Governor's Conference on Tourism.
"The College of Business is proud of Professor Bonn's accomplishments," said Dean Caryn L. Beck-Dudley of the College of Business. "This honor is a testament to the benefits of university and industry collaboration."
Bonn has dedicated much of his time to tourism-related research, and credits his childhood for his incredible passion for the subject.
"I loved to fish and during the long, cold winter months," Bonn said. "I constantly sent away for free fishing catalogs in the classified sections of outdoor fishing magazines. Through reading those catalogs, I believe I vicariously experienced travel around the world. The fishing articles were actually travel-related and talked about various destinations, their unique food, geography and exotic wildlife."
Throughout his time as a researcher, Bonn has produced many breakthroughs.
"My research has been an incredible run of firsts," Bonn says.
In 1994, Bonn was the first Florida tourism educator to develop a K-12 curriculum model for Sustainable Tourism. In 1993, he was the first educator in the United States to develop and teach a curriculum for the "Resort Condominium Management" industry.
He was also the first tourism researcher in Florida to document the economic value of major events, including Miami vs. FSU football weekends, Gasparilla, New York Yankees Spring Training and theOutback Bowl.
While teaching students in FSU's College of Business and performing research, Bonn still has time to allocate to projects elsewhere.
He uses his creativity to develop marketing plans and curriculum models. Bonn has also become a force in increasing Florida's existence as a leading "green" visitor destination.
"My research has presented years of opportunities to travel the globe to share research information and meet leading scholars who have used my research to build upon their own research streams," Bonn said. "To me this is very rewarding."
Bonn's advice for students is what drives him every day himself.
"Whatever you choose to do in your life, whatever career path you select, go for it with passion," he said.