Hospitality and Tourism Provide Excellent Opportunities and Give Back
The hospitality industry regularly comes under fire for being a “low wage” industry despite data proving otherwise.
When attending a legislative meeting of the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee this Spring I proudly referred to the 30,500 Wyoming jobs that the tourism and hospitality industry supported in 2012 as part of my comments to the committee. Our industry comprised 8% of all Wyoming jobs in 2012.
Much to my surprise, when chatting with one of the legislators during a break, I was told directly “those are not good jobs.”
To provide insight into the benefits of the travel job and career progression of workers who started off in the travel and hospitality industry, the US Travel Association analyzed data collected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in a report titled Fast Forward: Travel Creates Opportunities and Launches Careers, which summarizes the BLS labor force data on how travel jobs benefit workers and how careers in this industry progress over time compared to the workers who began in other industries. There are 4 key findings in the report:
- Higher Wages - Employees who start their careers in the travel industry earn significantly higher wages than those employees who start their careers in other industries.
- Higher Education - One-third of the Americans who work part-time to support themselves while furthering their education work in the largest component of the travel industry – leisure and hospitality.
- Building a Middle Class – The travel industry is one of the top 10 largest employers of middle-class wage earners in the US. More than half of all travel industry employees (53%) earn a middle-class salary or higher.
- Building Valuable Skill Sets for Rewarding Careers– Employees to work in travel jobs build valuable skills that can translate into rewarding careers, both in travel and other industries.
The travel and hospitality industry offers employment opportunity and competitive pay while playing an active role in the Wyoming communities they serve. Eighty percent of restaurant owners started out in entry-level positions as cooks, servers and bartenders. The industry gives individuals the opportunity to become business owners even if they have not completed a post secondary education.
In addition to providing thousands in Wyoming excellent job opportunities with competitive pay, the hospitality industry regularly gives back to the communities they operate in. Last year, when researching information for a similar article I called various sized industry business owners across the state to inquire about their local giving. It came as no surprise to me that all five business owners immediately listed a number of local charities they regularly contributed to including a Multiple Sclerosis walk, the Muscular Dystrophy Association “jail and bail”, Make a Wish Foundation, United Blood Services and the list went on and on. A national restaurant chain operating several units in Wyoming even flew staff, food and equipment to Iraq and Afghanistan numerous years in a row to make sure those serving our country overseas could enjoy a hot meal that reminded them of home.
With record numbers in 2012 as a backdrop, the tourism and hospitality industry has a fantastic story of success to tell. It is incumbent upon all of us during this interim period to make sure that every one of our legislators fully understands the impact that our state’s second largest industry has in the communities we live in. The hospitality and tourism industry has and always will be one of incredible opportunity.
Chris Brown, Executive Director
Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition