30 April 2024

The event, held on 18 April 2024, was the first of its kind for the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and catered to students enrolled in the Diploma in Culinary Arts, Diploma in Hospitality Management, and Higher Certificate in Events Management programmes.

The Hospitality Summit's primary objective was to provide students with a comprehensive introduction to their respective fields of study, covering critical topics such as industry trends, technological advancements, future skills, and employment opportunities. This initiative reflects UMP's commitment to preparing its students for the dynamic challenges of the hospitality industry.

"Where preparation meets opportunity" was the chosen theme for this year's Summit, aligning perfectly with UMP's mission of creating pathways for student success, as highlighted by Professor July Sibanyoni, Head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

"Since the establishment of the university, we've witnessed remarkable growth in enrolment, reflecting the increasing demand for skilled professionals in the industry," he remarked adding the importance of practical experience through the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programme, which provides students with valuable industry placements.

"Our university-industry collaborative teaching and training ensure that students are well-prepared to meet the expectations of the industry." 

UMPExperts in the Hospitality industry presented the latest trends.

On the day students engaged with guest speakers who offered industry insights, networking opportunities, and practical knowledge and skills. They also had hands-on experiences with organisations within the industry, enriching their understanding and preparing them for future endeavours.

Among the distinguished speakers was Chef Duduzile Mkhabela from the South African Chef Association, who shared her inspiring journey from facing unemployment to establishing her own food business. Mkhabela further encouraged students to engage with culinary organisations to help them achieve their career goals in the industry.

"I learned the importance of seizing opportunities and continuous learning. Market yourself every chance you get, don't be afraid to start small, and create your signature dish," she advised students.

Chef Victor Zidonga provided insights into the South African hospitality market, highlighting its significant contribution to the country's GDP and employment opportunities.

"Tourism is the fastest-growing economic sector in South Africa," Chef Zidonga stated. "It not only drives economic activity but also fosters development and reduces poverty. The influx of tourists drives up local businesses' demand for services and products, creating jobs, increasing revenue, and reducing poverty. Direct benefits include those created by tourism-related activities such as accommodation, transport, and the various attractions around our country."

UMPThe Summit served as a platform for students to connect with industry professionals, and gain valuable insights.

UMP alumnus Zwelakhe Mahumane, now working as a Duty Supervisor, shared his experience of pursuing higher education and career advancement. "Returning to school and obtaining my Diploma in Hospitality Management from UMP was a turning point in my career," he said. Mahumane encouraged students to balance their studies with socialising, and to explore scholarship opportunities.

Thando Mathebula, a third-year Diploma in Hospitality Management student, expressed how the Hospitality Summit has provided her with invaluable insights that will greatly benefit her upon entering the workforce. "I acquired essential knowledge, particularly regarding hygiene practices within the hospitality industry," she remarked.

The UMP Hospitality Summit served as a platform for students to connect with industry professionals, gain valuable insights, and prepare themselves for rewarding careers in the dynamic field of hospitality and tourism. With a focus on practical experience, industry collaboration, and seizing opportunities, UMP continues to empower its students to excel in the ever-evolving hospitality landscape.

Story and pictures by Cleopatra Makhaga.