The Multicultural Affairs Congress’ 19th Annual Hospitality Education Day served to enlighten more than 200 high school and adult transition students on the employment options within the hospitality sector.
Mayor Michael Nutter highlighted the growth of the city’s third largest industry as he addressed students during the event held Wednesday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Nutter said the city’s hospitality workforce is slated to grow from 50,000 to 60,000 over the next few years; due to the expansion of the convention center and opening of new hotels. He said another 700 to 800 room hotel is needed in Center City.
“This is a very homegrown industry and business. This is an industry that has a great career path,” said Nutter, noting that 80 percent of Philadelphia’s hotel employees live in the city.
“You can start literally by turning down beds, cleaning rooms, and get to the front desk and move up through the management ranks and one day, any one of you here in this room could actually be a general manager or CEO of a hotel — or move up further in the management ranks.”
He also noted the opportunities in restaurant ownership, and the opening of businesses which support the hospitality industry.
“There’s great upward mobility within this particular industry. There are a lot of components to the hospitality and tourism industry,” the mayor said.
He encouraged the students to stay in school, graduate, pursue some form of higher education and to stay involved and connected to the hospitality business.
Participating students hailed from Ben Franklin, Dobbins, Furness, George Washington, Germantown, South Philadelphia and Swenson High Schools, OIC, Philadelphia Academies, Philadelphia Youth Network, Cheyney University and the Community College of Philadelphia.
“It’s really important for us to continue to showcase not just the Pennsylvania Convention Center, but the career opportunities that are available to our youth. Primarily because it’s an industry that many people don’t realize as a way to make a lifetime career choice,” said Tanya Hall, MAC executive director.
“When I was in high school, I had no idea that the industry was one that was so vibrant in Philadelphia.”
The focus on the city’s hospitality sector comes as the convention center marked its first year anniversary of the expansion project this month. The center is now 62 percent bigger.
‘The Pennsylvania Convention Center really is the center of the industry for us. In Philadelphia, meetings and conventions are our lifeblood,” Hall said.
“Tourism is great, but it’s meetings and conventions that keep our hotel and hospitality industry alive. It’s important for students to really understand that this is where it hinges. The success of our industry hinges on the success of this building, so we want them to see that.”
During the day-long event, students tapped into workshops on career ladders in hospitality, information about college admission and the nuances of planning and executing meetings and events. Students also received initial screenings for internships, scholarships and summer jobs and the opportunity to hear from culinary professionals in food and beverage management. The event featured a motivational session with DJ Diamond Kuts, the DJ of rapper Nicki Minaj.
In other Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau related-news, the organization recently showcased its strategies for attracting business to Philadelphia.
“Philadelphia’s reach is global and we must learn more and adapt to our existing and potential customers’ needs and desires,” said Jack Ferguson, president & CEO, PCVB. “With proper planning and implementation, we can attract new visitors and conventioneers from all around the globe and make them feel welcomed and appreciated in Philadelphia.”
The city’s success as a diverse convention destination was touted during the Multicultural Affairs Congress’ 17th annual recognition luncheon on Thursday.
Mayor Michael Nutter highlighted the economic impact of the city’s multicultural tourism market as he addressed more than 500 attendees who packed the Hyatt’s ballroom.
“As we look forward, Philadelphia’s multicultural tourism market share is only going to keep growing,” said Nutter.
“Over the next four years we expect to see approximately $76 million in multicultural tourism industry economic impact here in Philadelphia.”
Two major conventions are the 2016 Bicentennial Celebration of the AME Church, expected to generate an economic impact of $26 million and perhaps 30,000 visitors; and the 2012 National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Convention.
Other future convention highlights include the Black Engineer of the Year Awards, the National Haitian Charismatic Congress, the North American South Asian Bar Association and Jack & Jill.
Due to the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s expansion, the city needs more hotels. With that in mind, Nutter called for the establishment of a minority-owned hotel.
“What I want to see is a hotel in this city built by minorities, owned by minorities, operated by minorities and supported by this entire community,” he stressed.
“The time has come not just to talk about jobs, not just to talk about contracts, not just to talk about goods and services, but equity and ownership — and this is an industry that will support that kind of activity right here in the city of Philadelphia.”
Held under the theme “Power, Pride and Progress,” the luncheon served as an occasion to honor industry and community leaders for their accomplishments in support of MAC’s mission.
“The individuals and organizations selected as awardees truly embody this year’s theme of ‘Power, Pride and Progress.’ They have been allies in maximizing multicultural hospitality opportunities for our region and represent the type of leadership that MAC celebrates,” said MAC executive director, Tanya Hall.
“We are extremely pleased to be honoring these recipients for their contributions.”
MAC posthumously recognized KYW Newsradio community affairs reporter Karin Phillips with the Legacy Award. The newly created award honored Phillips for her contributions toward raising awareness about the activities and accomplishments of Philadelphia’s multicultural convention and hospitality community. Her work supported many of Philadelphia’s diverse hospitality initiatives and conventions, including the National NAACP Convention, the unveiling of the historic President’s House and the Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival. Phillips died Sept. 13 following a brief illness.
Award recipients included Charisse R. Lilllie, president of the Comcast Foundation and vice president for Community Investment, Comcast Corp., Outstanding Recognition Award; El Sol newspaper, Share the Heritage Award; David Kong, president and CEO, Best Western International, Industry Appreciation Award; and local host committee, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture 2012 Convention, Bring It Home Award.
“At Comcast, diversity is really a way of life for us. We have done a number of things since we acquired NBC Universal to really move the ball and to really make sure that we as a company are faithful to the principles of diversity,” said Lillie.
She touted Comcast’s Joint Diversity Council and the company’s Internet Essential program that provides low-cost broadband service to underserved families.
Since MAC’s inception in 1987, Philadelphia has hosted more than 1,000 groups, resulting in an economic impact of more than $900 million.
MAC is a division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.