Press Releases

San Diego Hospitality & Tourism Industries Open Doors to Host 525 High School Students at the 20th Annual Hospitality Conference & Career Fair

February 09, 2018

SAN DIEGO —  San Diego’s hospitality and tourism industry will open its doors to host 525 high school students for the 20th Annual Hospitality Conference and Career Fair on Thursday, Feb. 15.    The conference will be held at Golden Hall, located at 202 C Street, San Diego from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. (PST)

The event is designed to prepare and inspire students, who are currently enrolled in hospitality and culinary programs, for future career success in one of San Diego’s fastest growing sectors.  During the day, students will explore various careers paths, interact with top industry professionals and fill out applications to secure summer job opportunities.   The hospitality and tourism sector in San Diego employs 184,000 residents and generates more than $743 million annually in state and local taxes, according to The San Diego Tourism Authority. 

The conference is sponsored and organized by San Diego County Chapter- California Restaurant Association , SDG&E, San Diego Unified School District, and San Diego Hotel- Motel Association.

WHAT:                                 High School Hospitality Conference and Career Fair 

WHEN:                                 Thursday, February 15, 2018

TIME:                                    8am to 1pm                      

WHERE:                               Golden Hall, 202 C Street, San Diego, CA


Michael Blake, President, San Diego Chapter- California Restaurant Association

Luis Barrios, General Manager, Hilton San Diego Airport at Harbor Island

Scott Crider, Vice President, Customer Services, San Diego Gas & Electric

Zoe Gonzales, Conference Alum & San Diego State University Hospitality Student    

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, City of San Diego

Al Love, Director of College, Career & Technical Education, San Diego Unified

Michael Rubalcava, Conference Alum & Future Restaurant Owner 

Claudia Sandoval, Guest Speaker and Celebrity Chef

Kristi Zimsky, Junior Achievement of San Diego 

Students & Special Guest Speaker

Students from e3 Civic, El Cajon Valley, Garfield, Granite Hills, Hilltop, Hoover, IDEA Center, Kitchens for Good, Madison, Mira Mesa, Morse, Mount Miguel, San Diego, San Diego Center for Children, San Diego Job Corp and Valhalla will participate in the one- day job shadow initiative.   The event will kick-off with inspirational guest speaker, Claudia Sandoval, the winner of reality TV cooking competition MasterChef.   Then students will break into groups for a “behind-the-scenes” tour at the following hotels, restaurants and local hot spots:

Participating Hotels, Restaurants & Tourism Hot Spots 

Coronado Island Marriott, Donovan’s Steak & Chop House, Grand Hyatt, Hilton Harbor Island, Hilton San Diego Gaslamp, Hornblower Cruises & Events, Hotel Del Coronado, Il Fornaio, Lou & Mickey’s, McCormick and Schmick’s, Marriott Gaslamp Quarter, Marriott Marquis San Diego, Miguel’s Cocina, Omni Hotel, Rei do Gado, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Cheesecake Factory, The Fish Market, Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, US Grant Hotel, Water Grill and Wyndham.

Career Fair

Students will also visit the Career Fair to interview and fill out job applications for summer employment with some of San Diego’s top hospitality and tourism companies.  The students will have a chance to visit with local universities and colleges to learn more about educational paths in the dynamic and fast-growing industry.  Junior Achievement (JA), a nonprofit that teaches students work-readiness skills, will also be a part of the Career Fair, to help students learn how to write a resume and practice interviewing techniques.


“The Conference opens student minds to a future in the hospitality industry.  They learn they can be general managers and executive chefs but also lawyers, architects, engineers and marketing professionals.” -  Luis Barrios, General Manager, Hilton San Diego Airport at Harbor Island

“We are extremely proud of our local business partners who join in with the California Restaurant Association in helping enrich the minds and lives of our future community leaders.  To see dedication and investment in these students by all involved in the hospitality conference is commendable.” - Michael Blake, President, San Diego County Chapter of the California Restaurant Association

 “Building an innovative and diverse workforce is a priority at SDG&E.  As a lead sponsor, we are committed to empowering students to be college and career ready. ” - Scott Crider, Vice President, Customer Services, San Diego Gas & Electric

“Students walk away feeling inspired.  They start talking about their passions, goals and future steps they are going to take to ensure they become tomorrow’s leaders in this growing and important sector in the San Diego economy.” - Al Love, Director of College, Career & Technical Education, San Diego Unified 

“The Conference gives students access to some of the best minds and business owners in the industry.  It inspired me to work hard and led to my currently employment with The Pendry San Diego Hotel. I am thrilled to be one of the spokesperson and look forward to encouraging these teens to succeed beyond the classroom.  ” -  Zoe Gonzales, Conference Alum & San Diego State University,  Hospitality Student    

“This Conference put me on the path to success.  It taught me not to be afraid of failure and gave me the confidence to turn my dreams into a reality.   At the age of 24, I am proud to say I have already worked for some of the top leading hotels and restaurants, including the J.W. Marriott in Dubai, and currently as a line-chef at Mr. A’s. I am extremely grateful to be one of the Conference’s spokespersons.  I am looking forward to inspiring and preparing these young adults to become the next generation of San Diego’s hospitality leaders.” - Michael Rubalcava, Conference Alum  & Future Restaurant Owner 


Tourism is the second largest export industry in San Diego and accounts for one-in-eight local jobs, according to San Diego Tourism Authority.  

Employment in California’s hospitality industry has posted annual consecutive increases in employment since 2011. This year, the sector is projected to add 18,880 new jobs, growing by 1.8 percent annually according to Economic & Workforce Development, California Community Colleges.

The total revenue generated by hospitality and tourism businesses in 2012 exceeded $95 billion, according to Economic & Workforce Development, California Community Colleges.

Providing young people with real-world learning experiences can be key to improving U.S. high school graduation rates. Currently, 1 in 5 students do not graduate with their class on time. In San Diego, 19% percent of students will not complete high school on time and earn a diploma this this year, according to the latest data released by U.S. Department of Education.