San Diego State University College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Hospitality and Tourism Management Students Attend Dubai World 2020 Expo

The L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management overcame pandemic challenges to send students to Dubai

Hospitality and Tourism Management Students Attend Dubai World 2020 Expo

HTM Director Carl Winston and students at Expo 2020 in Dubai

by Allison Cone

January 27, 2022

This winter recess saw the rise of the Omicron variant, which sent the world back inside and tightened travel restrictions. Despite the uncertainties and challenges of the everchanging pandemic, SDSU’s the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management worked around the clock to ensure that students would be in attendance for Expo 2020, a world expo hosted in Dubai. On January 2, 2021 students traveled across the world for a transformative educational experience.

Expo 2020 operates under the theme, “connecting minds, creating the future.” The expo showcases world innovations in sustainability, mobility, and opportunity, facilitating a global connection between established and emerging industry professionals. 192 countries are represented at the six-month long event, all showcasing breakthroughs in tech and design with a unique cultural perspective.

According to Jano Paredes, president of SCREAM (Students Creating Ride, Entertainment Attractions and Memories), planning a trip across the world during the wake of omicron and during finals was no easy feat.

“Omicron not only introduced obstacles in regard to travel requirements, but it also worried us that the trip would get canceled by SDSU. The restrictions within the Dubai and Abu Dhabi emirates kept changing each day, but we overcame them with the incredible flexibility of the students and the amazing hospitality of the professionals over in the UAE,” said Paredes.

Experiences like Expo 2020 are essential for HTM students. Encountering another culture’s individual approach to tourism and hospitality is fundamental to an HTM education, and it cannot be done online.

“As hospitality students, a lot of our skillset is having personal connections, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who struggles with being personal on Zoom,” said Michael Poisson, a fourth year recreation tourism management student. These trips and experiences help us explore areas of the industry we never knew existed. They help us connect with industry professionals on the other side of the globe.”

The trip was a success for students who were able to network, experience hotel tours, explore pavilions representing 192 countries, and see the world’s innovations that will build a better future.

“It’s an eye-opening experience that gives us an edge beyond those students or professionals who never got such an experience,” said Desiree Meyette, a junior hospitality student. “On top of that, being able to experience hospitality in other countries helps the students to think outside of the box that we have grown up within.”

HTM and SCREAM faculty worked diligently to guarantee that SDSU was included in the important global connection and conversation that occurs at events like Expo 2020.

“HTM truly believes that experiences and networking is as equally, if not more, important than what we learn from a textbook,” shares Paredes. “These experiences and skills are what will truly benefit us as we transition from the classroom to the field, so it is important to push these experiences even during a pandemic.”

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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