Black Meetings and Tourism

September/October 2014

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by the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers. As baby-boomers, born between1946-1964,slowly(andoftengrudgingly)transition to retirement, it is imperative to identify those who will carry on their small businesses, hotels, bed and breakfasts (B & B) or restaurants, as well as filling leadership positions of current African-American professionals in communities and professional organizations. While there may be a clear professional succession plan in communities with a long legacy of management development through HBCU grad- uates, other regions may experience a void without inten- tionally cultivating the next generation. One interesting example is provided by the State of California public high- er education system. During the first decade of the twenty-first century California's colleges and universities saw an influx of stu- dents from other nations, who are admitted to the commu- nity colleges and CSUs on a limited basis. Hospitality, tourism and recreation-related careers fall under several headings within census categories; (1) Arts, recreation and travel, and (2) Accommodations, food and other services. The CSU Hospitality Management Education Initiative (HMEI) involves 14 participating campuses, and includes preparation for the following industry sectors; attractions, club management, event management, food and beverage, gaming, lodging and tourism. CSU campuses are still among some of the most ethnically diverse in the country, and even two-year "feeder" institutions such as Santa Monica College and Mission College attract students from various parts of the globe. Graduate program classrooms may host students from Saudi Arabia, Romania, China, Korea and Japan, as well as from the local district. By learning together in the interna- tionalized classroom settings, African-American students are exposed to international perspectives, rudimentary cul- tural differences, and languages. If wise, African-American students will take advantage of opportunities to visit other countries when invited by their international course-mates, since gaining first-hand exposure to the challenges of glob- alization and could potentially lead to consideration for assignments outside the US that could, in turn, expedite consideration for career advancement. African-American students can reciprocate by educating visiting students about their culture and history. HANG-UPS ABOUT HOSPITALITY T here exists a relatively small amount of research conduct- ed on African- Americanstudentinterestin the hospitality industry. In California there is little incentive to further investi- gatethisphenomenon,since the United States 2012 cen- sus reported that Black or African-Americans consti- tuteonly6.6%oftheCaliforniapopulationascomparedto 13.1%nationwide. Campusclimateindicatorssuggestthat someCSUandUCcampusesareunwelcomingtoAfrican- American students, as well as Latino students (Landa 2013), with some campuses reporting as low as 3.4% enrollment among African-American students. At CSU Northridge, for example, African-American student enrollment hit an all- time high of 2,658, as compared to a steady decline there- after,to2,536in2011,thenhittingalowof2,224in2012with a slight increase 2,276 in 2013 (Rivas, 2013). Unfortunately, consistent patterns of over-enrollment on many of the CSU campuses means that identifying "openings" regardless of area of intended study is moot. If increasing enrollment among African-American stu- dents is taken seriously, one strategy may be to promote specific career niches where African-Americans will both have an opportunity to excel, as well as finding a supportive environment that connects them directly to a career pipeline. Clearly, hospitality and tourism majors, which are still relatively small (under 250 on some campuses) could provide the individual guidance and support necessary for student success. Unfortunately there are obstacles to be overcome in recruiting African-American students to hospitality and tourism industry. As Bradford & Credle (2007) discovered, the perception of careers in the industry as "servitude" caused family and members of the community to view this employment path somewhat negatively. Ironically, once in the major, students had a more positive view of their roles and opportunities. Changes in attitudes were influenced by industry experience, whether job shadowing, internships or exposure to industry professionals during classes. Clearly a mental shift had to be made from the historic images of African-Americans in "service" to slave owners or the well- to-do, to finding an effective and important niche in the global service economy. Today's students, particularly on the West coast are increasingly less influenced by this historical perspective unless they live in a predominately African-American com- munity, or that history is kept alive for them through educa- tion or family experience. In short, many of today's students have not experienced limited access to recreation and leisure experienced by persons of color prior to the passage of Public Accommodations legislation in the mid-1960s. They have grown up during an era when they have been able to a t t e n d upscale restaurants, concerts, theme parks and more or less had the oppor- tunity to travel wherever they wished; with affordability and safety being the only barriers. 31 B M & T ••• September/October 2014•••

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