2,600 jobs needed to cater to growing tourism industry - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

2,600 jobs needed to cater to growing tourism industry

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - It may not be the military buildup, but the island's tourism industry is preparing for an influx in visitors over the coming years. It's not just about building capacity to cater to the anticipated growth of the island's number one industry - it's also about building up the people.

"A lot of people really focus on infrastructure needs such as new hotels, new markets such as Russia and china and although those things are extremely key to us growing our market GVB and GHRA we already work on those things together with our stakeholders. At GHRA we really want to focus on one of the internal issues, which is workforce development," said Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association president Mary Rhodes. She addressed Rotarians today announcing a need to fill thousands of jobs in line with the Guam Visitors Bureau's target to reach 1.5 million visitors by 2015 and 2 million by 2020.

Earlier this year, GVB reported a record 1.3 million visitor arrivals. "A thousand new jobs and then we have about 35% turnover rate so that's 1,600 additional jobs so in the next five years we'll need about 2,600 jobs," she said.

With an estimated 1,000 students taking tourism and hospitality courses in high schools and only 4% graduating with certificates of mastery to proceed to the Guam Community College, Rhodes hopes to boost the numbers of those committed to the field and ready to adapt to the diversifying market. "Languages, different types of etiquette, and cultural understanding of our guests and then also our employee base has been changing over the last decade so we're not having a lot of H2 workers there are a lot of people within our region not just our own island but other islands as well nearby so we need to make sure we incorporate all of that," she said.

But it's not just filling positions for servers, front desk clerks, and concierges, "but also middle management. We want people to be able to have supervisory and management experience as well so I'll be working with UOG on a management-training program," she said.

Rhodes is presently working with the University of Guam to add these courses by 2014. Meanwhile, visitor numbers are expected to soar though the summer months of July to September immediately followed by the holiday season.

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