At Your Service: The Hospitality Industry

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With dozens of national and state parks, picturesque beach resorts, world-class music festivals and amusement parks, California is known around the globe as a travel destination. While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the tourism industry, the sector is set to rebound. When it does, the state will need those troops of trained hospitality professionals: hotel and restaurant managers, event planners, tour operators and marketers​​.

To meet this demand, California State University, San Bernardino launched a new hospitality management program at its Palm Desert campus. This region boasts a $7.5 billion hospitality and tourism industry that employs 22 percent of local workers thanks to its extensive collection of golf courses, rental properties, resorts and events like the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival—which alone draws 99,000 people​ per festival day.

“Almost one in four jobs in the Coachella Valley is related to the hospitality and tourism industry; statewide, nationally, globally, it's closer to one in 10," says Joseph Tormey, D.HTM, director of the hospitality management program. “The hospitality workforce is especially vital to the regional economy."

Which is why the local hospitality and tourism industry was a large driver behind the new program, which is one of many hospitality-related programs in the Cal State system​​. “Part of the outcry is that we need a program not only to educate our local population so they don't pursue their educational needs elsewhere, but also to attract students from outside of the valley, and perhaps bring needed talent to the area where there are jobs," Dr. Tormey explains.

As a result, Tormey has forged close ties with industry partners to enhance the students’ learning experience through guest speakers or hands-on internships. When circumstances around the pandemic allow, he also plans to take students on local field trips to restaurants, hotels, resorts, the Palm Springs International Airport and the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau—as well as visits to locations further from campus like Disneyland, the museums of Los Angeles, the hotels of Las Vegas and Joshua Tree National Park.

In the future, Tormey hopes to introduce trips to the Hotel Show in New York City, the Chicago Restaurant Show and various international destinations, including an annual short-term study abroad trip to Italy during spring break.​

“[The program is] developing not only hospitality knowledge, skills and abilities, but also cultural competency," he says. “Eventually, they're going to start working in their respective careers in the Coachella Valley, and they'll have the confidence and experience to interact with the different types of guests and tourists, many of whom have second homes here and hail from international destinations. The international piece through study and internships abroad is going to give students exposure [to other cultures] and provide global awareness and familiarity with the diversity of travelers and businesses outside the Valley."

The campus will welcome its first cohort of hospitality management students this fall.

“We're hoping to contribute to California's hospitality workforce on a larger scale by first helping local industry in creating a pipeline of exceptional student​s who have the right knowledge and skill set to fast-track into supervisory and management careers when they graduate."

Explore hospitality and tourism degrees at the CSU.