Tourism education is much needed to develop tourism

Tuesday, November 7, 2023



The importance of tourism education and its potential to transform the industry was the central theme of this year’s Ministers’ Summit at the World Travel Market 2023 in London. The summit, celebrating its 17th year, gathered 40 tourism ministers to discuss critical issues in the field. The session, organized in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), was titled “Transforming Tourism Through Youth and Education.”

Natalia Bayona, Executive Director of UNWTO, highlighted the need for greater emphasis on tourism education. She pointed out that tourism, despite being a major youth employer worldwide, is not among the top three most popular university subjects in most countries. Additionally, the nations where tourism is widely studied are predominantly in the Northern Hemisphere. Bayona stressed that tourism education should extend beyond hotel administration, as nearly 80% of related degrees primarily focus on this aspect.

Julia Simpson, President and CEO of the WTTC, emphasized the industry’s growth, exceeding the global economy’s rate. She mentioned the vital role of tourism in providing employment and transitioning individuals from the informal to the formal economy. Simpson also acknowledged the need to address young people’s perception of travel’s poor sustainability.

UK Tourism Minister Sir John Whittingdale underlined the industry’s significant job opportunities and encouraged individuals to recognize the potential for social mobility within the travel sector. He emphasized that there are no ceilings in the industry, allowing individuals to start from entry-level positions and advance to top management roles.

Several ministers from different countries shared their strategies for fostering tourism education and preparing the workforce for the future. These efforts include integrating tourism qualifications into high school curriculums, collaborating with the private sector, and focusing on quality experiences rather than quantity.

The summit also discussed the potential of Africa’s “youth bulge” in supplying tourism workers, and the importance of certifying, classifying, and remunerating employees appropriately.

In conclusion, the summit highlighted the significance of tourism education in shaping the industry’s future and ensuring a skilled and sustainable workforce. By addressing current challenges and investing in education, tourism can continue to thrive and serve as a powerful tool for economic growth and cultural understanding, especially in regions recovering from conflicts.

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