The above photo of Tina Ferro teaching at SJC Long Island was taken in May 2018.
Flights cancelled. Restaurants closed. Countries in lockdown.
The impact the coronavirus is having on the hospitality and tourism industry is undeniable. But Tina Ferro, chair of the hospitality and tourism management (HTM) program at St. Jospeh’s College, explains why the future looks bright — and why the major has never mattered more.
OnCampus: What’s your take on the coronavirus and its impact on the HTM industry?
Tina Ferro: Travel has been disrupted on a global scale. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a worldwide crisis and will have devastating consequences for the hospitality and tourism industry — consequences that may be potentially heavier than 9/11, SARS and the 2008 financial crisis. However, the energy of the hospitality and tourism industry is a direct reflection of the resilience and determination it has to return to its strong state.
OC: How is the virus affecting each facet of the industry?
TF: Hospitality and tourism is one of the largest industries in the world, and it’s one of the fastest growing fields of employment. Long Island hospitality and tourism accounts for $6.1 billion annually and generates $740 million in tax revenues. Hospitality and tourism drives local, regional and national economic development. It is a social industry built on a foundation of customer service. Travel is restricted, events are cancelled and vacations are being postponed. The industry is trying to navigate the crisis and mitigate the impacts, but the economy is being affected.
OC: What are some ways in which the HTM field is helping during this time?
TF: Communities and businesses have united together to take action. Foodservice operations have arranged free meals for medical staff, and hotel properties have offered to provide temporary housing for emergency and health care workers, and donated masks, gloves, cleaning supplies and beds to local hospitals. Here are three examples of just some of the ways HTM organizations are stepping up and helping others:
- Hospitality for Hope Initiative: The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) revealed that more than 15,000 hotels have signed up for its new initiative, which is connecting hotels with health care communities by offering housing and other support.
- Hospitality Helps: This organization is bringing together health care workers and government agencies, providing beds. So far, they have pledged more than 1.2 million beds to those in need.
- Making Room: The online database connects hotels with hospitals in urgent need of additional space.
OC: Why is the HTM major more important now than ever before?
TF: Hospitality and tourism supports one in every 10 jobs in the world, and has accounted for one-in-five of all jobs created over the past five years, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. It is a dynamic industry with a multitude of employment opportunities.
OC: In what ways can our future HTM graduates bring about positive change for the future of this field?
TF: Hospitality and tourism is a critical engine of economic development and acts as a vehicle for sharing cultures and building a mutual understanding. By managing the impact of environmental and social issues, or “think global, act local,” our graduates will bring about positive change in the field.