Tourism: The world's biggest single industry

The world's your oyster if you're a tourism graduate, says Alan Marvell
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The Independent Online

Tourism is an exciting global business. In the UK alone, 2.1 million people work in jobs supported by visitor spending. Both home and abroad, careers in the tourism industry attract a wide range of people with all sorts of interests and ambitions.

Tourism is a cultural activity, subject to change and capable of affecting the world we live in and the way we look at our world. The study of tourism is interesting and important: it impacts on the cultures that develop it, the people who are involved in it and the societies which supply tourist services or the tourists themselves. It also has the potential for considerable environmental impact.

University and college courses in tourism and related areas assess the social and economic contexts of tourism and enable students to study issues such as heritage management and the environment. Most demand that you write an undergraduate dissertation, which usually includes fieldwork at home or abroad, based on your own research proposal. There are also opportunities to study and work abroad.

Higher Education tourism programmes provide a strong foundation for employment, enabling you to develop vocational knowledge and expertise.

Additionally, you will develop valuable personal attributes and competencies, including the ability to communicate effectively, develop ideas and deal with change.

There are different types of tourism course. Some focus on heritage and culture and are designed for students who want a career in heritage management, public sector tourism, interpretation and education or tourism marketing.

Alternatively, some courses focus on sustainability, providing a grounding in the social, cultural, economic and environmental aspects of tourism. These courses focus on ways to achieve responsible and sustainable tourism development. Courses link to anthropology, sociology, business studies, cultural and environmental studies, and geography, amongst other fields.

Other tourism courses offer a business management approach It is important to find out what each course can offer you and ensure that it reflects your own interests and aspirations.

Tourism graduates go on to work with major companies in the tourism industry, regional tourism development bodies, economic development agencies and local authorities. There are also opportunities in regional and national government in the UK and overseas, and in teaching positions.

Alan Marvell is course director for tourism management at Bath Spa University

'The course is flexible'

Kerrie Turner, 20, took her A-Levels at Wootton Bassett Sixth Form. She gained an AVCE (Double Award) in travel and tourism (AA) and an AS business studies (A)

"I chose to study tourism management at Bath Spa University because it's a small, friendly university. I have benefited from having approachable and helpful tutors. Also, studying tourism management in a top UK tourist city is ideal. It is a wonderful city to live in and the course has excellent links with local attractions. These links are complemented by guest speakers and fieldtrips, which along with work placements are great for putting theory into practice.

The course is flexible, allowing me to specialise or combine many other subject areas, particularly business management and tourism geography. I have chosen to specialise in business management as I hope to work in tourism marketing after I graduate.

I am particularly looking forward to the Italy fieldtrip next year, doing my own research project and learning about the new and emerging tourism destinations."

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