Careers in Hospitality and Tourism Management

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the economics of the 21st century will be dominated by three industries: telecommunications, information technology and tourism. The travel and tourism industries have grown by 500% in the last 25 years.

Travel and tourism represents a broad range of related industries. The growth of these industries has opened up many new job opportunities for graduates in areas such as:

  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Retailing
  • Transportation
  • Travel agencies
  • Tour companies
  • Tourist attractions
  • Leisure, recreation and sport
  • Cultural industries

It is interesting to realise that in 1997 travel and tourism provides 10.5% of the total world employment, with up to 25% of all employment, in some areas, such as the Caribbean.

It has been estimated that, by 2007, more than 100 million people world-wide will be employed in this sector. Because of this, tourism is now seen to be of importance to most countries of the world.

During this time, the nature of tourism has developed in scope and direction, away from traditional activities, such as the sunshine sand and sea holidays to a wide range of new activities such as cultural tourism, adventure tourism, sports and leisure activities and eco-tourism.

Given the potential for interesting and rewarding careers in these industries many young people are looking for suitable courses which will help prepare them for careers in management within the tourism and hospitality industries.

The UK higher education system has a well developed range of courses, at all levels from Higher National Diploma, BA or BSc degrees and MA/MSc/MBA Masters courses and using alternative methods of studying, (including full-time, part-time and distance learning).

When looking at courses in hospitality and tourism, there can seem to be a bewildering variety of course titles covering the main employment areas of travel, tourism, hotels and restaurants. Typical titles include:

For hotels and restaurant management:

  • hospitality management
  • international hospitality management
  • hotel and catering management

For travel and tourism:

  • tourism management
  • tourism studies
  • travel and tourism

There are also joint degrees where it is possible to study combinations of subjects, such as tourism and hospitality, tourism and leisure, hospitality and marketing.

Most undergraduate courses (HND/BSc/BA) will include a period of work experience as part of the course, varying in length from 6 months to one year.

This work experience is seen to be a central part of the course, where the student gets the opportunity to practise what they have learned in college or university. Employers also see great value in this work experience when considering the employment of graduates.

Given the international nature of these industries, another valuable part of any course is the study of languages. Most courses in hospitality and tourism provide access to language courses, either as core components or as options.

Courses at Masters level are becoming increasingly important in tourism and hospitality. These Masters level courses are useful to two groups of people:

- Those who have completed a degree course in a subject other than hospitality or tourism but who are looking at ways of getting employment in the industry;

- Those who have a degree or sub-degree qualification in hospitality or tourism together with significant management experience within the hospitality or tourism industries and who wish to develop themselves to a higher level or to seek a more senior position in industry.

There are many Masters courses in Hospitality Management, Hotel and Catering Management and Tourism Management in universities and colleges in the UK.

In addition to the above courses, there are also more specialised Masters courses in Tourism covering areas such as Cultural Tourism, Tourism Marketing, Tourism Planning, Museum Management, Heritage Management, Cultural Tourism and Sustainable Tourism:

  • These are suitable for people who have an interest in employment in a specific sector of the industry.

Within the UK there are many university and college courses to choose from, but each course will have its own unique characteristics. Before applying, you should think carefully about the type of career you want:

  • If it is in a hotel are you interested in restaurant management or rooms division management?
  • Do you see yourself as a practical hands-on person or someone who is happier to work behind the scenes in a desk based job?
  • Do you aspire to become a general manager of a hotel which is part of one of the major world-wide groups, or
  • Do you want to manage your own operation?
  • Are you more interested in one of the functional management areas, such as marketing, human resources, conferences.

If you are interested in tourism do you want to work for a travel agency, a tour company, the management of a tourist attraction, or within the public sector-national, regional or local tourism planning organisations.

Think about these types of question before consulting the prospectuses or WEB sites so that you can judge each course against your own preferences.

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