By Kamana Basnyat
Tourism industry is one of the most competitive and innovative industries in the world with domestic and international destinations all competing for the top spot. This means new creative ideas and services are constantly being developed to keep up with tourists’ needs in order to stay ahead of the competition.
There is an increasing widespread recognition of importance of tourism sector in terms of its contribution to the economy and the number of people it employs. In the context of Nepal, every tourist employs nine people in the industry. The recognition of tourism industry is growing domestically and internationally; and therefore there is an emphasis on education and training opportunities to encourage people and students to work in this dynamic sector and enhance their skills as their career progresses.
Careers in tourism industry are dynamic. They are full of opportunities for mobility, creativity and diversity. Career paths can be found on many different sectors that include accommodation, attractions, food and beverage, transportation, adventure tourism, events and conference, tourism service and travel and trade. In spite of these opportunities, majority of people still consider working in tourism sector as a second best career choice. They think if nothing else works, the answer is tourism sector. Guides or trekking agents’ jobs are often frowned upon when compared to any bank job for business. People often have a huge misconception that jobs in tourism sector, apart from a very few selected jobs such as chef or top management, do not require skills.
But tourism industry requires employees to possess a large number of skills to work successfully in this sector. This industry is very different from any nine to five office job where every day is the same. However, the tourism sector requires set of skills such as organization, communication, awareness of different cultures and customer service to name a few.
The industry has always offered good opportunities for travel and work in different countries along with healthy growth record in employment. But the job or duties one has to perform is equally demanding and seeks perfection. Committing to the industry means better understanding of the sector’s operation and the willingness to work in the sector that never sleeps or rests. The industry is seasonal but the preparation required to deal with customers’ anticipation is paramount. Almost all tourism jobs, either in airlines, hotels, airports, casinos and entertainment centers, are in operation round the clock. Therefore, a dedicated team of employees are required to cater to the tourists. Shift work is often carried in the sector this means every employee will not be able to take a day off or leave during festivals, birthdays or any kind of public events. At the same time, this is the industry where hard work is paid off very well. Tourism employees work very hard to deliver best set of experiences to tourists who are away from home and the value they deliver is unparallel to any service or products provided in any other industries. There are number of roles in the industry these tourism employees have to perform — they are helping traveler to go on their dream holiday, creating an experience they will never forget. Therefore, commitment is required in this sector.
The tourism industry is complex and has wide scope. In Nepal tourism industry has not always been recognized for its career opportunities. But this concept is gradually changing. There has been a greater acceptance of tourism as a subject and a career. The government and educational institutions have taken necessary initiatives and lent support toward this sector. Today there are more than a dozen colleges offering tourism courses in plus two levels, Bachelors and Masters levels. The courses are adopted by various educational boards of Nepal such as Tribhuwan University (TU), Purbhanchal University (PU), Pokhara Univeristy (PU) and Kathmandu University (KU). In addition to this, colleges also offer internship programs for students for a period of six to eighteen months within the country and also in international locations such as Malaysia, the Maldives, Dubai and Qatar to name a few. This allows students to experience the career they will be working on once they complete their education.
As tourism is a global industry, there are huge opportunities for people working in this sector. The opening of Marriot and Sheraton hotels in Nepal in the near future will open new doors of opportunities for people interested to work in the tourism sector. In addition to this, numerous government agencies and association are involved either through specific tourism resources such as airports, museums and parks etc. Therefore, investing in tourism sector has huge career prospects. Working in tourism industry does not only restrict a person in jobs such as air hostess or travel agent, it goes beyond these jobs.
There are eight different sectors in the tourism industry one can build a career with.
1. Accommodation: hotels, guest houses, inn, villas, bed and breakfast, tourist homes.
2. Food and Beverage: restaurants, dining rooms, night clubs, catering operations
3. Adventure Tourism: golf/tennis facilities, rafting, cave exploration, mountaineering
4. Transportation: air carriers, railways, car rentals, cruise liners
5. Attractions: galleries, historical sites, museums, amusement Parks
6. Travel Trade: travel agencies, tour guides, tour wholesalers
7. Event and Conference: carnivals, special events, exhibitions, fairs, meetings
8. Tourist Services: Government Tourism Department, Information Centers, Research Services, Press.
The tourism industry can be taken as a career option because it is incomparable to any other industries. Tourism can be taken as a career because;
1. Tourism is growing:
This industry is growing faster than many other trade industries and it can offer much more to the employees so that they can enjoy their job in national and international levels.
2. Tourism has variety:
The diversity of tourism industry in terms of its eight sectors offers wide range of job offers according to interest and capabilities of the individual.
3. Tourism is global:
Career in tourism can open up the world to those people who want to travel, work and gain new skills.
4. Tourism is dynamic:
Tourism is one of the most dynamic and competitive industries and has to change in order to anticipate customers changing taste and stay ahead of the competition. New ideas, skills and methods are needed. This broadens an individual’s horizon to his/her career.
5. Tourism is satisfying:
No other industry offers so much choice and chance to work in the most beautiful places around the world and enjoy the best of the facilities. Working in the tourism sector means providing unforgettable experiences to guests and being a part of their experience. The career in the industry is very satisfying with excellent salaries, different cross cultural experiences and job satisfaction.
Therefore, career of the tourism industry has huge prospects and it can be enjoyable, informative and satisfying too.
(The writer is a lecturer in Travel, Tourism and Hospitality and director of training in Key Skills Nepal.)