Hundreds of high school and college students got an inside look at Hawaii’s tourism industry Friday.

The 4th annual LEI Program features more than 60 businesses, including 21 full-service hotels, that introduce students to various visitor-oriented operations, and even job opportunities.

Events are held on each major island and are sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the non-profit organization ClimbHI.

“Today is a part of really us trying to build an academic pathway for hospitality and the tourism industry. This is a program that takes the kids, high school level, into the hotels and they really get a first-hand look at what happens within the hotel and how individual departments and team members come together to fulfill an experience for our visitors here,” said David Uchiyama, HTA vice president of brand management.

“It was helpful. I learned a lot,” said one Pearl City High School senior. “They told us what every job does and how different it was compared to each other.”

Uchiyama says this year’s response has been especially positive.

“We’re hearing that a lot of the businesses are offering internships to some of these kids because they see the potential in them. So this is getting them at an early age and getting them in sync with what tourism can do, not just for our industry, but for the economy of the state,” he said.

News Article and Photo Credit: KHON2