The University of South Carolina’s hospitality and tourism management leads the SEC and is among the top 10 in the United States, according to independent rankings released this week.

The ShanghaiRanking’s 2021 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects — Hospitality & Tourism Management places South Carolina No. 9 in the U.S. and No. 17 worldwide out of more than 500 programs globally.

The rankings, which include more than 250 U.S. programs and more than 500 worldwide, are based on research output and influence, international collaboration, research quality, international academic awards and a survey of more than 6,000 professors from 100 universities.

This is UofSC’s third consecutive year in the ShanghaiRanking top 10, and the program ranks No. 1 among Southeastern Conference universities.

“This ranking puts the University of South Carolina in the 97th percentile for hospitality and tourism management programs nationally and worldwide. It shows our commitment to quality education, innovative research and our focus on advancing our global industry,” said UofSC School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management director Robin DiPietro. “Our goal to help students reach the top leadership positions of companies such as Marriott, Disney, Hyatt and Club Corp has never waned, and I’m proud of the students and faculty of the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.”

The school offers bachelor’s degrees in hospitality management and tourism management, a master’s degree in international hospitality and tourism management, and a Ph.D. in hospitality management.

“The rebound and growth of the hospitality and tourism industry has created a high demand for career-ready employees,” said David Cardenas, interim dean of UofSC’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. “I’m excited for our students to be positioned for leadership opportunities and to help shape the future of hospitality and tourism management.”

Tourism is South Carolina’s largest industry. It brought $23.8 billion dollars to the state in 2019, generating $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. Tourism and hospitality accounted for 11.1 percent of all South Carolina jobs in 2020.

As of July 24, hotel occupancy in South Carolina is up 76.1 percent from the same time in 2020, and up 2.1 percent from the same time in 2019 (before the pandemic). Hotel occupancy is frequently used by researchers to gauge the current state of the tourism and hospitality industry.

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