The future of the travel and hospitality sector post-pandemic is one of the most discussed and browsed topics we have today. Even while considering various elements, the one significant subject that remains undiscussed is the real future of our industry – the upcoming generation in tourism.
It was only a few decades ago the government and the education sectors felt the relevance of the skilled manpower in the tourism sector, introducing various courses to enhance the skills of the students enabling them to be industry-ready. Tourism institutions across the world have witnessed an increase in the enrollment of students year-on-year, which endorses the increasing interest of generation Z in the tourism and hospitality sector. This proudly represents the structure of the tourism sector in India and also emphasizes on the upskilling of the industry.
Resilience – The need of the hour
The pandemic has left our tourism industry in distress, there has been zero or negligible business in the past 18 months. This has not only hit the people in business but even the students enrolled in the sector are in a pool of uncertainties. Prof. Alok Sharma, (Director), Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM) shares, “The impact of the industry has also laid a huge impact on the education system as they both go hand in hand. As the tough times are coming to an end the students, as well as professionals, are coming up with various ideas to revive the industry with the help of the government.”
Prof. SK Kabia, Director IQAC & Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management, Bundelkhand University asserts, “Tourism being one of the highly susceptible industries too has been badly affected. The students pursuing tourism education across the nation are in a situation of hopelessness and despair. ”
Required well-groomed and highly professional approach
Tourism students are considered as an essential asset in the developmental process of our Industry. They are trained and made as professional manpower which manages offices, organizations, industries and administrations. The target groups of educational/training programmes extend much beyond the organised sectors of the economy. Prof. (Dr.) M. Sajnani, Director, Amity Institute of Travel & Tourism, Amity University Uttar Pradesh comments, “In order to serve in this multifaceted travel industry different skill sets, education and training are required. As tourism is a service-based industry it cannot take risk of losing the existing or potential customers by unprofessionalism and lack of service quality delivery, therefore, the employees who serve tourists are required to be trained, educated, well-groomed and highly professional in their approach.”
Importance given to mental health
Getting prepared for future tourism, identifying the right job opportunities, continuous learning and upskilling, adaptation to newer technologies along with maintaining good mental and physical health are the important issues that are continuously being discussed with the budding professionals. Professor S.K. Kabia tells, “The major challenges before the students are- what will be the future of the tourism and hospitality industry? How to cope up with stress and maintain good mental and physical health? With persistent counselling and motivation from teachers, students are trying to recuperate from the situation and trying to equip themselves for the new normal conditions.”
Prof. Alok Sharma further shares, “We at IITTM with all our centres (Gwalior, NOIDA, Bhubaneswar, Nellore and Goa) organise many short-term online courses and activities to involve our students and motivate them for coping up the stress on a regular basis.”
Adaptability is the key
It was challenging for the institutes and educators to adapt to new technology proving its efficacy and providing the same level of education to the students simultaneously. Sharing the experience on how the educators adapted themselves in these crucial times, Prof. (Dr.) M. Sajnani states, “We at Amity Institute of Travel and Tourism left no stone unturned to swiftly switch to remote learning and gather all necessary resources. All the departments worked day and night to bring in the new technological tools and pedagogies to cater to all teaching-learning processes be it, online classes, conducting exams, evaluation or registering the students in their next semester without wasting a single day or letting students suffer any academic loss.”
Upskilling, reskilling and preparing for the future
The post-COVID 19 revival expectations of the Industry from the academic Institutions are many fold i.e. the Industry has a choice between trained and experienced staff who have lost their jobs during Pandemic and Fresh College Graduate. “In order to meet such a challenge we have already revised the curriculum keeping in mind the changing needs of the travel Industry particularly increased emphasis of automation in business processes,” tells Prof. (Dr.) M. Sajnani.
Present can be bleak but the future is bright
Professor S.K. Kabia, shares, “The recovery in tourism might be slow, but we are sure that after the vaccination of a substantial chunk of population, there shall be control on this virus. It is envisaged that the tourism industry will be the first one to see major growth, as since for a very long time no international travel has taken place, people are eagerly looking forward to exploring once again. The Jobs certainly would multiply fast when the situation becomes normal or close to normal. Also, we all understand that nature is recovering and rejuvenating fast. There shall be greater focus on nature/farm/agriculture/ rural/ adventure tourism in future. Micro holidays and travel to nearby attractions would be more prevalent. Wellness and yoga tourism will witness huge growth.”
The tourism industry will bounce back once the pandemic gets over for sure and many countries have started showing keen interest in easing their border restrictions, but not without a line of caution and adherence to the COVID 19 protocol. “Businesses are exploring new technologies, both to drive bookings and to facilitate safe travel as well as to bring back the confidence of travellers from across the globe. Developments such as contactless check-in at hotels and airports, virtual tours of museums, and virtual experiences are not going to disappear. Hence the tourism institutes, educators and students look forward to a future where tourism booms once again and makes every stakeholder happy as earlier,” tells Prof. (Dr.) M. Sajnani.
Prof. Alok Sharma concludes, “IITTM’s Tourism Research and Development Cell is working to analyze the future prospects of Tourism and Hospitality post-covid-19 phase based on the case studies from different countries and I am sure that this will help the entire tourism education sector in terms of the future prospects and growth. I strongly believe in the saying by Charles Darwin “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”