Campus: San Diego State University -- October 18, 1999


SDSU Launches Hospitality and Tourism Management Degree Program

$1.1 Million Private Gift Announced as Seed Money for Program's Creation, Implementation

Hospitality and tourism, San Diego County's third largest industry, is getting a boost today as San Diego State University and the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau (ConVis) announce a $1.1 million leadership gift from L. Robert Payne to launch a proposed new degree program that will provide the industry with much-needed trained executives.

"Through our thousands of graduates, SDSU has helped build San Diego into a major metropolitan community and is a significant contributor to the region's economic growth and development," said San Diego State University President Stephen Weber. "San Diego's tourism industry is in need of trained management professionals and SDSU is ready to work with them to fill that need."

Payne, an industry leader and principal owner of the San Diego Mission Valley Hilton and Hanalei Hotels, pledged $1.1 million as seed capital to start the four-year Hospitality and Tourism Management Degree Program at SDSU. This leadership gift kicks off a $10 million campaign that will be carried out in three phases over the next five years and addresses the areas of executive talent, program development, student enrichment, community programs, and facilities and technology.

"My contribution is a challenge to others in the industry to step forward and ensure we are building a nationally competitive program, one that will respond to our need for management talent. Our support becomes an investment in the future of San Diego and its hospitality and tourism industry," said Payne.

Typically, San Diego hotels, restaurants, attractions and hospitality businesses conduct national job searches for management talent because of the limited local educational programs that prepare labor pools for these managerial positions. In 1997, university and community leaders came together to address the accelerating management needs in the hospitality and tourism industry. A feasibility study by the Aztec Business Alliance confirmed the need for a program specializing in educating hospitality and tourism managers.

The Hospitality and Tourism Management major is a four-year undergraduate interdisciplinary degree incorporating classes from SDSU's College of Business Administration and the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts. The first students are expected to enter the program in the fall of 2000.

"San Diego itself is a laboratory for the hospitality and tourism field," said Weber. "The students will learn from the best of academics and the best of the profession."

The proposed coursework will include a comprehensive study of the theory and practice of hospitality and tourism management. In addition to a foundation in business and professional studies courses, students will specialize in one of four concentrations: hotel operations and management; restaurant operations and management; global tourism management; and attractions, events and convention management. Besides classroom work, students will participate in internships and will graduate ready to step into supervisory and management positions.

"Tourism is vital to San Diego, and this partnership between SDSU and the industry supports the future prosperity of San Diego," said Reint Reinders, ConVis president and CEO. "Thanks to the generosity of one of our own industry leaders, we will soon be able to draw from a local pool of talented young graduates to fill these managerial positions within San Diego's ever-expanding visitor industry."

The national travel and tourism industry accounts for nearly 700,000 executive-level jobs and is expected to grow at a faster rate than the overall economy. The average hotel general manager earns between $45,000 and $98,300 a year, according to the Tourism Works for America 1998 Report.

According to Weber, Payne's gift allows the University to move past the start-up phase and begin developing the finer points of the program: "We are now able to focus our attention on our other needs such as the internship bureau, scholarships and classroom technology that will help create a five-star program," he said.

Tourism is San Diego's third largest industry behind manufacturing and the military. In 1998, 14.5 million overnight visitors to San Diego spent approximately $4.7 billion. California's travel and tourism industry represented 5.8 percent of the Gross State Product in 1997, generating approximately $61.2 billion in 1997. San Diego County attracts approximately 10.4 percent of the domestic travelers who visit the state of California. According to California Travel and Tourism, each person visiting San Diego spends $61.20 per day with an average length of stay of 3.4 nights.

San Diego State University is the oldest and largest higher education institution in the San Diego region. Since it was founded in 1897, it has grown to offer bachelor's degrees in 76 areas, master's degrees in 58 areas and doctorates in 11. The more than 31,000 students participate in an academic curriculum distinguished by direct contact with professors and an increasing international emphasis that prepares them for a global future.

The San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau (ConVis) is a private, non-profit, mutual benefit corporation composed of approximately 1,600 organizations, businesses, local governments and individuals seeking to build a better community through the visitor industry. The main objective of ConVis is to promote and market the greater San Diego region as a premiere convention and leisure travel destination.



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