HGTC launches hospitality management program upcoming semester

Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 11:17 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) -- Horry-Georgetown Technical College will launch a new hospitality degree program on its Grand Strand Campus this fall.

The new Hospitality & Tourism Management program will cater to three different hospitality industry tracks; food service management, event planning management, and hotel management.

Joe Bonaparte has been teaching at the Culinary Institute for nearly 10 years but always had the idea of expanding the program across the hospitality industry.

Aside from class work, HGTC plans to partner with local hospitality managers and business owners to get these students hands-on experience.

“Students will be their lecture here but for a hotel management student, they might work at front desk offsite and find out what the jobs are all about,” said Bonaparte.

Entering this summer, there were more than 360 job openings related to the hospitality and food industry here in Myrtle Beach.

Executive Director of the Myrtle Beach area hospitality association, Victoria Tobin says partnering with HGTC has allowed them to fill those open positions.

“We have a lot of fantastic local employers taking in those students and helping them grow within the industry,” said Tobin.

Myrtle Beach Sheraton General Manager, Suzanne Hinde says as the Grand Strand becomes a year-round designation she’s always looking to hire new employees and promote from within.

“As a manager when I see people who are growing I try to see where I can place them within the hotel and how I get them to that next step,” said Hinde.

Despite more than 30,000 employees working within the hospitality industry in the Myrtle Beach area, the average salary is well under $30,000 a year.

“Pay rates for hospitality workers, in general, has historically been pretty low,” said Bonaparte.

HGTC hope this new two-year degree will help separate their students from other people applying for open positions with higher starting salaries.

Tobin says the students at HGTC who graduate through this program will have great skills and connections.

They all hope more Myrtle Beach employers offer competitive wages to help keep these students working and living here in the Grand Strand after graduation.

“We want these students to stay here locally rather than going elsewhere after college,” said Tobin.

HGTC is accepting applications now for students interested in the program that will help graduates obtain employment in the hotel, restaurant, and event business.

The first group of students is expected to graduate in 2025.