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Travel and tourism: Education and career

Overview

With almost 35 million Indian traveling within India, 5 million going abroad each year and about 3 million foreign travelers visiting the country, travel and tourism offers an extremely bright future. Rated as one of the most important activities of the 21st century, the industry already has the capacity to absorb about 30,000 trained personnel in its various activities. This is likely to increase in the coming years with the government’s encouragement and thrust of its activities.

So, if you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, get ready to pack your bags and take off to an exciting future.

Skill set

If you have a genuine interest in travel, this could certainly be a worthwhile career option. A passion for travel, awareness of people, places and areas of interest, and of local customs and cuisines would give you the base on which to build a fascinating career. Some organizing ability, good interpersonal skills, and a friendly and amicable temperament and appearance will also go a long way in this profession. As this is a highly competitive field, it is an advantage to have access to a wide range of information and data on transportation and destinations, be good at planning and time management, as well as resourceful and adaptable. Proficiency with the computer and a willingness to work hard and on weekends and holidays is also required.

Tour operators and tourist guides need to be friendly and sociable and be able to relate to tourists and their needs.

Scope

The travel and tourism industry provides employment directly to millions of people worldwide and indirectly through many associated service industries. A very wide industry, it includes government tourism departments, immigration and customs services, travel agencies, airlines, tour operators, hotels and many associated service industries such as airline catering, laundry services, tourism promotion and sales. Travel and tourism enterprises include major internationals with a workforce of thousands to the small private travel agent with a handful of employees.

Work in the travel and tourism industry is essentially concerned with providing services for people who are away from home on business or holiday. Travel can be leisure travel involving package tours, pilgrim travel and adventure travel or purely business. Work at every functional level in the industry involves dealing directly with people.

Travel agents book passages for surface and air transport, arrange hotel reservations or other accommodation, hire cars and coaches. In a nutshell, they are responsible for the clients’ comfortable travel and stay arrangements.

Travel managers are primarily concerned with administration of the agency and sourcing out new locations and convenient travel packages.

Marketing includes advertising and promoting agency services to existing and potential clients to procure business for the company.

Ticketing, amajor part of the work, is conducted from behind the counter. It involves helping clients plan itineraries, working out travel routes, providing information on destinations, selling tickets, arranging visas and making stay reservations.

Tour operators deal specifically in travel and destination management. They put together and sell package holidays. These include offering special-interest packages ranging from archaeology to golf, wildlife, and even astrology. Today, adventure tours are popular — river rafting, trekking tours, heli-skiing, wind surfing and other such sports are a major attraction for tourists, eager to absorb the latest thrills. Some tour operators specialize in adventure or other special interest tours, and work the entire itinerary accordingly.

Tourist guides play an important role in any travel agency. They accompany tourists to their destinations, provide them with detailed information about the locations, take care of all their needs there and organize various activities in these locations.

Training/Qualification

While training in travel and tourism is helpful, it is not absolutely necessary. After graduation you can join a travel agency without any formal training, and learn on the job. However, to enhance career prospects, it is advisable to have some qualifications, whether in tourism or in the area of hospitality.

The minimum eligibility for admission to travel and tourism courses at the undergraduate level is plus two.

A postgraduate course in travel/tourism management after graduation in any subject will provide you with managerial and administrative training for work in the industry. Fluency in at least one foreign language can be an added advantage.

For Comments: psjamwal@amity.edu

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