World Tourism Day – The urgent need to revamp the travel and tourism education in India
By Anand Maheshwari
The tourism industry in India and abroad has excellent potential to grow and generate revenues. The pandemic has highlighted the need to transform the way the tourism sector works. The theme for this year’s World Tourism Day, that’s observed on September 27, is “Rethinking Tourism”. This idea has been propelled by the challenges that the industry had to face amidst the deadly pandemic. It also serves as a reminder to be prepared for all the future challenges that would require a lot of collaboration and interconnectedness amongst the leaders and the people, who are actively involved in the decision making processes of the tourism sector.
The future of tourism lies in being sustainable, inclusive, and in empowering the planet we live in. Developments in the tourism sector has many socio-economic benefits, the significance of which can’t be ignored. Tourism supports the economic progress of our country, it provides a source of income and generates employment opportunities thereby encouraging social progress and it also contributes towards preserving the cultural heritage of our country. As per reports, in FY20, tourism sector provided around 39 mn jobs, which constituted 8% of the total employment. It is predicted that by 2029, the sector would provide around 53 mn jobs, which would record an annual growth rate of 10.35% between the years 2019 and 2028.
Education sector plays a significant role in molding travel and tourism experts
Travel and tourism has become one of the most sought after career choices for the newer generation. Be it the extravagant portrayal of travel life on Instagram or the genuine passion to explore places, travel and tourism is one of the most trending sectors today. Studies suggest that India produces thousands of tourism graduates year-on-year, which is much more when compared to Asian countries.
The most effective way to create tourism graduates with the exact skill sets needed for the sector is by taking inputs/feedback from the industry stalwarts. This way we would be able to train the graduates well before they enter into the real industry. Today, the popularity of tourism has increased a lot and has given rise to a number of colleges and universities that offer bachelors, masters, and PhD in tourism studies.
While India as a nation has always been encouraging and open to tourism, our participation in the sector has been sluggish. The major short-comings faced by the education system of travel and tourism is that they are unable to bring out smart and able tourism graduates to the competitive sector. There are plenty of reasons for this gap, including the fact that most tourism courses follow an outdated curriculum that was formulated ages ago on the basis of theoretical models of tourism and hospitality education, which clearly does not bridge the gap between the actual travel products and services that are relevant in the industry now. Universities and colleges also fail at developing entrepreneurial skills to students, which thereby affect their leadership qualities and negatively impact the operational procedures of advanced travel companies that hire the tourism graduates.
Institutions/colleges have a great role to play in making students ready for the future. This could be done either by revamping the curriculum or by training them to the business requirements of contemporary travel companies. Indian institutions must also provide students an overall view of the industry and the various verticals that exist in them. There should be electives like outbound tourism, adventure tourism, leisure tourism, medical tourism, business travel and corporate travel management, MICE (meetings, incentives, conference, exhibitions) tourism, etc. Quality education with appropriate job opportunities is the need of the hour.
Careers in tourism
The travel and tourism industry is one of the most interesting fields to be in. However, there are specific sets of skills that can act as an added advantage for any individual who wants to pursue a long term career in the field. Adequate knowledge of computer reservation systems, awareness of the global culture, airfares and ticketing skills, language skills, geographical knowledge, and a knack for handling foreign currencies and money are a few of the skills that would help create an edge over other candidates.
A few of the most common courses are – Bachelor of tourism management, Diploma in tourism management, Bachelor of arts, Events and tourism management, Bachelor of communication and media, Diploma in social science, Extended tourism management, International hospitality and tourism management, etc. Often students are also given an option to consider specializing in courses like domestic tourism, international tourism, wildlife tourism, business tourism, pilgrimage and spiritual tourism, cultural tourism, etc.
Pursuing a career in the tourism industry depends a lot on the skills that one has acquired. Students can pursue a career depending on the various categories of travel such as ticket & sales, Marketing & promotion, transport, cruise industry jobs, hospitality, tourism development, back office jobs, etc. But, to make all these courses relevant to the ever-evolving tourism sector, the universities and institutes must revamp the courses with what industry is looking for.
(The author is Managing Director, Allen Digital. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)
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