Published on 05/31/19

UGA taps South Carolina professor to head hospitality and food industry management major

By Merritt Melancon

After years of teaching and researching hospitality industry management at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, John Salazar knows hospitality is as much a science as it is an art.

Salazar joined the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on May 1 as coordinator for the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics’ new hospitality and food industry management major.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the Georgia hospitality industry,” Salazar said. “Since 2013, employment in the accommodations and food sector has grown almost 16%. Hotel occupancy has seen double-digit growth since 2011 in the Atlanta and Savannah markets. However, the growth isn’t only in Georgia’s urban area. Georgia’s Congressional District 3 has increased in hotel occupancy by over 14% since 2011, and a significant portion of that district is classified as rural according to the U.S. Census. With all this industry growth our UGA hospitality and food industry management graduates will be entering a job market that is expected to have consistent growth into the next decade.”

The major, approved by the Board of Regents in spring 2018, will prepare students for jobs in the hospitality and food industries across a broad spectrum of opportunities available in Georgia and beyond.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that hospitality is a $60 billion industry that supports more than 450,000 total jobs in Georgia. Of that number, close to 15,000 are hospitality management positions requiring a four-year degree, with 370 job openings every year, according to the Georgia Department of Labor Occupational Outlooks.

At the University of South Carolina Beaufort, Salazar was a professor in the Department of Hospitality Management and director of the Lowcountry and Resort Islands Tourism Institute. Previously, he was the director of the University of Tennessee Tourism Institute, and he also taught at Southern Illinois University and the University of South Alabama.

His research focuses on destination management and marketing and hospitality human resource management. He has conducted research for local, state and regional tourism agencies, nonprofits, municipalities, federal agencies and private corporations across the country. Prior to his career in academia, he held management positions with premier U.S. hotel and resort companies.

In coordinating instruction for the new CAES major, Salazar will be helping to design a curriculum and maintain an applied research program that will work with governments, nonprofit organizations and hospitality corporations.

For more information about the hospitality and food industry management major, visit

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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