A team of researchers from the University of South Carolina has been awarded a $144,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to create and deliver three state-of-the-art online training courses to serve the needs of businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector post-pandemic.
The project, led by Simon Hudson, Robin DiPietro and Tena Crews of the university’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, will assist with economic resilience and long-term recovery, not just from COVID-19, but also from future natural disasters and economic shocks, ensuring the tourism and hospitality industry in South Carolina remains globally competitive.
The courses will be developed over the next 12 months and will cover three general topics: customer service, post-pandemic skills, and leadership. Upon completion, participants will receive a certificate in “Post-Pandemic Tourism & Hospitality Skills” from the University of South Carolina’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.
“Given the significance of the tourism and hospitality industry to many national and state economies, addressing skills shortages worldwide is crucial post-pandemic” says Hudson, principal investigator for the team of researchers. “Interest in working in the sector has been significantly impacted due to job security fears - with redundancies and high-profile job losses reported throughout the pandemic. These complications pose a problem for industry sector recovery, as expertise and knowledge are needed now more than ever to cope with the ‘new normal’. A number of government and industry associations around the world have realized the importance of preparing the industry for adapting to new post-pandemic norms and are providing free online training for tourism industry employees or those wishing to work in the sector. Tourism and hospitality employees in South Carolina however, have no such resource. We intend to fill that gap”.
The School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management is ranked among the top 10 schools nationwide and is part of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. Its faculty members have worked side by side with industry partners since the earliest days of the pandemic to help ensure that South Carolina tourism (the state’s largest industry) will continue to thrive.
The EDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that partners with U.S. communities to foster job creation and innovation.