Belfast is seeing a surge in tourism which is being replicated by many new hotels and restaurants opening. With this in mind hospitality students gathered to learn more about the “endless opportunities” that exist in the sector.

Almost 500 students, from colleges and Ulster University, took part in Northern Ireland Branch of the Institute of Hospitality hosted, Home Grown and Growing.

The event highlighted opportunities for students to thrive in the exciting and expanding sector. It also provided an interactive platform for players in the industry to engage with students and educators. The students were able to mingle and speak to employers from the sector who attended to promote their venues and career prospects.

Those attending were told that the hospitality, tourism and leisure sector should be viewed as a career of choice and how hospitality was an industry that was expected to see vast growth in the upcoming years.

Marianne Hood, chair of the Northern Ireland Branch, said this was the largest student conference to date.

“We hope that the event has encouraged and inspired these undergraduates that talented people rise fast, if they have the right attitude,” she said.

“Events like this help to get the message out to young people that the hospitality industry has changed for the better over recent years. Working conditions are improving, including better working hours, and rates of pay.

“If we want our hospitality industry to thrive, we need to make it an attractive career prospect for young people. We have a duty of care to create pathways to match skilled students with the right roles in a sector that so desperately needs them.”