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TOURISM EDUCATION - is the Future Need
 

In course of 50 years, the travel,  tourism and hospitality industry has been acknowledged by international and national tourism promoting countries as a major force for social and economic development. But inspite of such recognition, we all have seen that in course of the five decades passed, the growth has not been matched by the development of a solid foundation or an infrastructure on which to sustain and enhance the data.

There are many reasons and very nature of the industry could also be some way responsible. But mainly the tourism industry, has not been able to establish educational infrastructure necessary to attract fair percentage of best talents who are looking for openings in tourism industry. As a result, there is little interest shown on to have reliable information base on which best management decisions can be made or attract best talents.

Though some beginning was made by having in-service training for the staff specially for changing consumer behavior, consumer preferences for selecting a destination, tour itineraries, sales and marketing for companies, spending patterns etc but the need is for more focused education for carrier opportunities and tourism information research. This has been rightly felt by the tourism entrepreneurs and respective governments of the countries who started promoting tourism in a bigger way.

Thus the need was felt for tourism education in the last three decades. There were sincere efforts in the development of educational programmes designed to enhance the education and training levels of those entering the industry as well as those keen to be employed in it. Since some progress was visible yet it has not reached the educational progress as seen in other manufacturing industries like automobile, textile, engineering products etc. Thus tourism syllabus is to be revised as per the needs of the market such need fuel the need for educational institutes and tourism education and research through those institutes. Even universities were involved to boost tourism education.

The first step to streamline the tourism education was to prepare text books and other teaching material for tourism. Leading experts in various aspects of travel and tourism provided the benefits of their knowledge and experience. Success has been varied. The initial education was based on industry practices focusing on Managerial Perspective to assist management in improving the quality of planning and decision making and put the message that tourism is multi disciplinary activity.

Ministry of Tourism, Government of India also had a research and marketing wing in the Department, still not specific tourism education policy was drawn up. These divisions were mainly collecting international tourist arrival data and tourists profile. The tourism education remained restricted to market surveys Research looking into collection of data.

Just a beginning mainly to have some basic tourism education purely need based to that Juncture of time, very focused but not through a proper syllabus for real tourism education. As the tourist arrivals increased through the 2nd Five Year Plan period, a new orientation was given to tourism education in the tourism planning mainly focused to Hospitality industry by setting up Food Craft Centers and Hotel Management Institute under the umbrella of the Ministry of Tourism to service the growing demands of tourists for good accommodation and food services etc and also to be competitive.

The Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM) was established as a registered society in 1983 at New Delhi under the Ministry of Tourism with the objective of developing and promoting education, training and research in the field of travel and tourism. In August 1992, the Institute was shifted to Gwalior and is now functioning from its own campus at Govindpuri, Gwalior.

Since 1995-96, the IITTM started a full time one year Diploma in Tourism Management (DTM) programme with the approval of All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) New Delhi. In the year 1995, the National Institute of  Water sports was also incorporated in the IITTM for education training and consulting in the area of acqua based tourism activities. In 1996-97, Eastern Regional centre of the IITTM at Bhubaneshwar was established with the same DTM programme. From the academic year 2007-08, the IITTM started another centre from Delhi IITTM; also  now conducts Regional Level Guide Training Programme.

For Hospitality education, Ministry had setup 21 Hotel Management Institutes in the central sector and six state government sponsored institutes. There are 5 Food Craft Institutes offering specialized courses. There are eight private Institute of hotel management. The IHM'S offer MSC in Hospitality Administration, Bsc in Hospitality and Hotel Administration, PG Diploma and other Certificate Courses. The Food Craft Institutes (FCI's) offer one and half year Diploma Programme in Food production, F & B Service, Housekeeping operation, Front office operation and Bakery and Confectionary.

Ministry of Tourism, Government of India is putting special thrust on development of human resources. There is special focus on this sector in the 12th Five Year Plan Ministry already took positive step in early November, 2009 by organizing crash course. Most of the course were focusing on behavioral aspects and is on basic cleanliness. These programmes included for CISF staff at the airports, Railways Porters, airport servicing staff, tourist coach operators and in fact all  those who will have the opportunity to have direct contact  with the tourists. These worked very well with Ministry's “Hunar Se Rozgaar” scheme where thousands of young boys and girls were trained to service the Hospitality and Travel industry.

It is tourist's preferences or motivation travels are changing, Tourism education need to adopt to significant societal and industry changes so that the new generation students can lead the industry into the future as it faces increasing pressures for responsibility and stewardship that puts a  priority for change in tourism educational programmes, fundamentally re-design not incrementally by adding new courses or putting courses on line, but by changing the nature of what is taught and how it is taught.

Skills and knowledge sets must be redefined; structures are to be discussed and old ways of doing things must be transcended. We have to keep in mind tourism employment in the coming decades will have a very different profile then it does today. Already what is taught now in our institutes (IITTM's) have become obsolete. The education has to be need based to the industry's changing scene and provide responsible leadership qualities with technically savy. To be more specific the syllabus to be value based tourism education. In the global scene we understand that there is an initiative from five sponsoring universities (Temple University and university of Hawai USA, The university of Quensland (Australia) Bocconi University (Italy) and model university (Austria).

Specifically they came together with the intentions that include. (i) To understand the changing environment that future students of tourism and hospitality will enter upon graduation (ii) identify the values, knowledge and capabilities that graduates will need to lead positively responsibly and effectively and time frame was kept for 2010-2030 (References Coles, Hall and Dural, 2006; Pink 2005, Samuelson, 2006 p -356 walles and steptoc, 2006. The initiative is called BEST EDUCATION NET WORK (BESTEN) ( are continuing with research on regular basis and furthering the development and dissemination of knowledge in the field of sustainable tourism.

As tourism promoting country we have to associate ourselves with such educational universities and take their guidance to re-organise our educational curriculum based on that expert and researched inputs and adopt to Indian scenario to the optimum level possible. Tourism education has to create a frame work for a value-based tourism curriculum that will be relevant and effective to meet the new challenges of the industry.   

By Gour Kanjilal - The writer is the former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and presently working as Executive Director with Indian Association of Tour Operators, New Delhi,  (This is based on my personal experience).

 

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