Dispelling the stereotypes and myths of tourism
Ali Al-Naama, author of I’m Such A Tourist, offers an overview of the tourism industry – and dispels some of the myths surrounding it.
The tourism industry is growing rapidly, continuing to increase its success in the global economy. The $7 trillion industry caters to more than one billion developing destinations and attractions around the world. Despite its dramatic progression and growth, the tourism industry continues to struggle with reputation and image, especially speaking on establishing a career in the field.
One of the main stereotypes is that the tourism industry is low-paying, with no career progression and not enough advancement possibilities – not true. Here are some facts;
• Although pay in the service industry is low, that does not mean there is a shortage of careers in tourism. There are actually important roles, such as tourism consultants in major project development companies, governments policy developers, tourism experts in the United Nations, etc. and those careers pay better, of course.
• College graduates can get great benefits; tourism management education programs are actually a blend of business and the tourism science. Students receive in depth knowledge of business administration while implementing different scenarios and cases in the tourism industry. The programs cover a variety of subjects. from business strategy and economics to tourism product development.
• The tourism industry has many growing opportunities around the world. This business has made the globe one world, enabling key developments worldwide. In aviation, many major international airline companies have formed alliances; in hospitality, numerous hotel chains were welcomed to open properties and operate internationally; major theme parks operators, such as Disney and Universal, are opening parks in different countries to boost tourism careers and have more global working and economic opportunities.
Tourism is actually a science – it is necessary to understand that tourism is not just about an airplane and a hotel, or even dining in a restaurant. Those are services developed to cater to tourists’ needs, but tourism itself is actually about developing destinations—it is about building and branding cities and nations, and establishing a reputation in the world.
With many myths and stigmas surrounding tourism, be it from someone within the industry or from the guest’s perspective, globalisation has played a vital role into changing the travel and tourism industry. Technologies, businesses and philosophies managed to expand internationally, making the industry a huge part in the global economy.
Just like the tourism industry contributes in shaping the global economy, each country is in turn impacted by it. Here are some key points when thinking about tourism as a global business and why it is great employment:
• Some countries have started developing their destinations to be more tourism-oriented, and yes, developing countries with no tourism resources could invade the industry with proper planning, good implementation and solid tourism education. For example, developing a sustainable tourism strategy that consists of what I call the Four E’s (Education, Economic, Environment, Experience) to shape and build the industry and make it a business that is sustainable for the long-term.
• Tourism creates jobs not only for the industry itself, but also for the local community, as there are opportunities for SMEs to establish their businesses and take part in the shaping of the industry, such as with tour buses, water taxis, tour guides and tourism app developers. Tourism is considered a worker-intensive industry that generates more job opportunities to encourage people in local communities to stay and work in fields under the tourism umbrella, such as transportation and aviation, hospitality and events.
• Organisations in charge of tourism for their nation can truly give back to the local community by being aware of eco-tourism. The host community providing sustainable jobs to the local people in turn improves the nation’s economic situation while decreasing poverty.
The tourism industry has experienced a constant growth over the last few years, developing diversification within the industry and creating career opportunities in the field. This makes tourism one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. Careers in the tourism industry are significant in the sense of allowing individuals to establish a wide network. It is almost guaranteed you will meet a variety of different people from varied backgrounds.
Ali Al-Naama studied Business in International Tourism Management and found tourism vastly different from what people presume the industry is. During his undergraduate career, he worked in an emerging hospitality company in Qatar, which gave further in-depth experience in hospitality. After graduation, he began working in business development for a company that develops special economic zones. He is now beginning his post-graduate education in Tourism Administration at The George Washington University.