Forecasted tourism staff shortage fuels regional hospitality education initiative


The revitalization of Cincinnati’s urban core and the city’s successful hosting of national and international events like the 2015 MLB All-Star Game and the World Choir Games have led to a steady increase in tourism. While income from new businesses, conventions, and individual travelers is welcome, growth also presents a challenge: finding qualified employees for tourism-related positions.

The Cincinnati Convention and Tourism Bureau in the United States is leading an effort to address this issue by creating a new workforce development initiative: the Cincinnati USA Institute for Hospitality Leadership.

“One of the barriers to staffing these positions is the perception that tourism work is front-line, low-paid, service-oriented work. There is a range of opportunities and roles that people don’t know about in Marketing, Finance, Event Planning, Human Resources and Multicultural Sales, ”Jason Dunn, Vice President of Multicultural Development and community, CVB.

“One of the barriers to staffing these positions is the perception that tourism work is front-line, low-paying and service-oriented work,” said Jason Dunn, vice president of multicultural and community development for CVB. . “There is a range of opportunities and roles that people are unaware of in the areas of marketing, finance, event planning, human resources and multicultural sales. “

Tourism as the main creator of jobs

Tourism is a major economic engine. Nationally, the US Travel Association reports that one in nine jobs depends on travel and tourism, and 84% of travel agencies are considered small businesses. According to TourismOhio, visitor spending has increased 27% since 2011.

“Tourism is fundamentally a job creator and an economic engine,” said Dunn. “The industry creates jobs, and once people make money they spend it, then the tax base goes up and they can reinvest in this robust region.”

These numbers represent an opportunity for residents of Hamilton County, where one in 14 jobs is related to tourism, including 74,000 in Cincinnati alone.

Tourism in Hamilton County
  • 1 in 14 jobs are related to tourism
  • 74,000 jobs in Cincinnati are supported by tourism
  • over 24 million visitors came to Cincinnati in 2015
  • visitors bring $ 44 billion to Ohio’s economy

As sales from future conventions increase, CVB anticipates the capacity needs of the tourism industry.

“Over the past few years, the region has added 500 hotel rooms, with more coming online soon,” said Yancy Deering, CVB communications director. “Tourism is a booming industry. In order to continue to support this growth, there is a definite and urgent need to have workers ready to enter and have lucrative lifelong careers, but also personally and professionally.

Dunn and his colleagues are currently recruiting participants for the Cincinnati USA Institute for Hospitality Leadership Task Force. Membership will include representatives from local attractions, businesses, commerce, educational institutions, hotels, restaurants and sports leaders.

“We want to make sure that stakeholders are involved in the formation of the Institute,” said Dunn. “We will do a business case for the support and demonstrate that there is a need, that jobs are available, that the field of tourism offers educational opportunities and long-term career opportunities. Our hotel ecosystem must first determine current and future needs, and then educate the wider community on how it can play a role.

The working group will develop a curriculum that begins in grade seven and continues through to college level.

Discover the tourism professions in college

“We first need to educate students about the opportunities in Grades 7 to 12 and introduce them to the possibilities offered by the field of tourism,” said Dunn. “Then we have to look beyond this introduction to continuing education, which could be a two-year program, certificate, diploma, or management program for higher levels of leadership. “

“It could become an academic major or additional courses to a degree program,” Deering added. “Someone earning an MBA might include courses related to the hospitality industry.”

The working group will meet before the end of the year for an initial orientation and planning session, and start the new year preparing for a tight schedule. In January, the working group will meet monthly with the intention of rolling out the introductory program during the 2017-2018 academic year.

While this type of university integration into the tourism industry has never been attempted before in Ohio, there are other states offering similar programs. The Florida Department of Education has a Hospitality & Tourism Careers Department, which aims to provide “students with practical educational opportunities, training services and related learning support” in the areas of accommodation, food services, recreation, attractions and tourism. The program begins with intermediate level courses and progresses through diploma and certificate programs.

Louisiana also has a Hospitality, Tourism, Culinary and Retail Program for high school students. Louisiana college students are introduced to the field as part of a career exploration program unit.

The Cincinnati USA Institute for Hospitality Leadership will start with a school district and grow from there. The state of Ohio has also expressed interest in the program.

“We understand that school systems have certain benchmarks and will need time to train teachers, prepare materials and establish benchmarks,” Dunn said. “We want to maximize opportunities, especially for large school systems with diverse students. We are certainly Cincinnati’s biggest advocates and we need to train our community to meet the needs and ensure that tourism continues to grow.


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