The United States of America is one of the most diverse countries in the world. The US is made up of individuals from various ethnicities, national origins, native languages, race, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Students studying and working in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry are exposed to these many dimensions of a diverse population. In fact, there were a recording breaking number of international students (886,052) in US colleges and universities in the academic year 2013-2014. One of the major benefits of studying in the US is that it truly shows the diversity that exists around the world (www.usnews.com).
In additional to the diverse and welcoming environment of College Campuses, the US model focuses on creating a well-rounded graduate with an emphasis on both the liberal arts and professional studies coursework. This is particularly beneficial to those students studying hospitality and tourism management. In most US bachelor degree programs in hospitality and tourism management, the student is exposed to a plethora of subjects areas including business management and leadership, social sciences, math and science, humanities, as well as courses that are directly relevant to hospitality and tourism management. Furthermore, many programs in the US are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA), which holds those programs to stringent quality standards.
US universities have adopted new strategies to enhance student-learning outcomes. In hospitality and tourism education, the previously mentioned topics are presented in a balanced approach focusing not only on theoretical concepts, but also on experiential learning, allowing students to truly connect what they are learning in class with industry application. High impact learning practices such as first year experiences, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, collaborative assignments and projects, diversity/global learning, community-based learning, and internships are the hallmark of high quality US baccalaureate degrees in hospitality and tourism management. One of the key areas that US programs focus on is combining work experience with the curricular experience. There is also significant focus on professional and career development throughout the student’s 4- year journey. Part of this development includes providing a realistic preview of the industry and all of its many opportunities for the upcoming new leaders. The outcome is a well prepared student ready for entry-level management positions in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Because the Hospitality and Tourism Industry is so prominent and well-developed in the United States, international students are exposed to the business realities of this global industry and thus can apply their knowledge and experiences in their own countries.
Because of the consistent and projected growth of this global industry, the opportunities in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry are truly boundless. One out of every 18 Americans is employed either directly or indirectly in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry. Tourism directly supports more than 7.9 million travel and tourism jobs (selectusa.commerce.gov).
In addition, the industry contributes significantly to the economic health of the US and abroad. The Travel and Tourism Industry generated $1.5 Trillion in economic output in 2013. In 2014, the industry represented 2.6 % of gross domestic product (selectusa.commerce.gov). Further, nearly 75 million international travelers visited the United States in 2014. This represents a 7 % increase over 2013. The Hospitality and Tourism Industry is the largest component of the service sector in the US (www2.unwto.org). The future of the industry is clearly promising from a growth and financial perspective.
Within Hospitality and Tourism education in the US, the philosophy is this: The hospitality career actually begins on the first day of a student’s college career. The industry exposure, the career preparedness, the professional development, the combination of the liberal arts and professional education, and the actual experiences in the workplace all serve to develop an industry-ready leader.
For more information, click here: Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA)
Dr. Jeffrey C. Lolli, Associate Professor, Widener University, Center for Hospitality Management
Dr. Joy P. Dickerson, Associate Professor, Widener University, Center for Hospitality Management