Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Science
With the construction of the Saracen Casino Resort underway in Pine Bluff, college students may consider enrolling in the new hospitality and tourism management degree program offered by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), Dr. Brenda Martin, chair of the UAPB Department of Human Sciences, said. An increase in local tourism will mean a demand for qualified employees.
“In addition to the casino being developed in Pine Bluff by the Quapaw Tribe, three other casinos are planned for construction in Arkansas,” she said. “With the new program in hospitality and tourism management, UAPB will be able to provide a pool of qualified employees to new hotels and gaming ventures across Arkansas and the Delta region.”
Dr. Martin said earning a degree in hospitality and tourism management will prepare students for managerial and high-level supervisory positions in restaurant operations, the tourism industry, event planning, hotel administration and other operational and administrative roles.
The new program’s curriculum includes courses in event planning, tourism concepts, lodging operations, hospitality and human resources, hospitality sales and marketing, gaming and revenue management.
“The program was designed with local and state businesses in mind,” she said. “Based on a survey conducted with hotels around central Arkansas, data projections show a need for general managers, assistant general managers and front office managers. Salaries for these positions range between $50,000 and $60,000.”
The field of hospitality and tourism management is growing and dynamic, offering exciting career options, Dr. Martin said. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings in the leisure and hospitality sector showed impressive growth in the U.S. between 2008 and 2018.
Increases in industry opportunities are expected to continue. There will be an 8-percent growth in jobs for lodging managers by the year 2024, as well as a 5-percent growth for food service managers. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs for meeting, convention and event planners are projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026.
Dr. Martin said the advisory committee for the UAPB hospitality and tourism management degree program will include representatives from the hospitality industry, government and business and nonprofit corporations. The committee will meet quarterly to discuss student recruitment and retention, graduation, internships and program improvement.
“Graduates of the new program are going to be at an advantage for finding well-paying, engaging career opportunities both in the state and across the U.S.,” she said. “The Department of Human Sciences is proud to offer this program, which will help increase recruitment and retention at UAPB.”