The Hispanic Hotel Owners Association (HHOA), a newly formed non-profit organization intended to support and promote the Hispanic community within the hospitality industry, is gaining momentum. It has signed 175 members since its official launch last September.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., HHOA aims to increase the number of Hispanic-owned, -developed and -operated hotels, further the participation of Hispanic-owned suppliers serving the hotel industry and increase executive-level employment opportunities for Hispanics within the lodging industry.

“Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the United States,” says Angela Gonzalez-Rowe, president and founder of HHOA. “HHOA was founded to support Hispanic hoteliers and vendors and create points of entry for Hispanics who have the ability and desire to succeed in the hospitality industry.”

A preliminary study by the group indicates that Latin America is at the forefront of international expansion of the hotel industry, with nearly 30,000 Hispanics having the financial resources to invest in hotel ownership. As a result, there's strong hotel industry interest in attracting Hispanic investors, claims the group.

Gonzalez-Rowe, former editor in chief of Hispanic Meetings and Travel magazine, leveraged her industry experience and contacts to guide formation of the association. She estimates about 150 hotels in the U.S. And Puerto Rico are currently owned and operated by Hispanics. “While working as a consultant to Hilton Hotels, I was introduced to a number of high-net-worth Hispanics who were interested in the lodging industry but didn't know how to go about getting into the business.” The major hotel companies are eager to guide these potential developers, she says.

Leading brands, including Hilton Hotels Corp., Marriott International, Choice Hotels International and InterContinental Hotels Group, have become corporate sponsors.

HHOA is planning its inaugural convention for Dec. 5-8 in Miami. Go to www.hhoa.org for more information about the association.

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