The A,B,C’s

of Tourism

As the tourism industry booms worldwide, training

students is more important than ever

By Dale Lawrence

Turning up the heat in the kitchen forces young chefs to think with cool heads.

PATA leads by example in developing

meaningful and effective relationships

with academia, but the need to

maintain and further develop education and

training opportunities for tomorrow’s tourism

leaders has never been greater.

Language skills remain an issue for some

sectors. English is the international business

language but the massive growth in

outbound tourism from China PRC is also

highlighting the need for hotels, tour

operators, airlines and DMCs to employ staff

that can speak Mandarin.

In the former British colony of Sarawak,

the UCSI University’s Kuching campus houses

the Centre of Excellence in Hospitality and

Tourism. The University is leading the Entry

Point Project 10 (EPP 10), a government

initiative to produce 50,000 educated and

highly skilled workers each year for the

Malaysian hospitality and tourism sectors. EPP

10 is one of 132 projects endorsed by the

Malaysian government as part of a national

programme to further develop the nation by


Lu Huong Yong is Chief Operating Officer

at UCSI University Sarawak. “We definitely

enjoy an advantage as a former British colony

because the standard of spoken and written

English remains high. Our reputation as a

leading private university in Malaysia has

always been a strong draw for Chinese

students and UCSI has a good track record of

meeting the needs of this particular student

cohort. An increasing number of Chinese

students also view Malaysia as an ideal

destination to learn English and UCSI is

focused upon this market segment as well.”

Miss Lu added: “In line with the influx of

Chinese tourists, language classes are also

provided for personnel in the tourism industry

and the response has been very positive.

Much of this is attributed to the success of

our dedicated in-house language centre.”

It’s a similar story at the Institute for

Tourism Studies in Macau, as IFT President Dr

Fanny Vong explains. “English is the standard

medium of instruction at this institution and

graduates who desire to pursue further

studies are usually able to achieve the

required 7.0 IELTS score – the standard

requirement for entry into most graduate


She added: “Whilst IFT does not have in

place a language proficiency indicator based

on an official benchmark, each graduating

student must demonstrate a level of English

proficiency sufficient to have actively

participated in projects, internships, class

discussions, events organisation,

presentations, research projects and various

assessment tasks required throughout the

duration of their course.”

IFT also recognises the need to develop

other language skills. “In addition to the

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English skills fail to pass on the importance of

learning a second language to their team

members. I suspect national pride may play a

part in this failure.

“We need much more effort at grass

roots level. Everyone needs to make a

commitment of time and budget and prepare

a dedicated programme with measured

results, starting at primary and secondary

schools and extending into companies where

‘language laboratories’ can provide an

effective environment for real learning. We

need a programme that people want to join

because it’s fun, their friends are taking part

and because their parents and employers are

encouraging it,” adds Scott Smith, who

launched the Assumption University PATA

Thailand Chapter as a stepping stone to

creating stronger links between students and

PATA members in Thailand and in

neighbouring markets such as Taiwan and

South Korea.

(Above) The IFT’s well-travelled instructors

strike a balance between theory and

practice. (Opposite page) Human

resources is a crucial subject at IFT.


The boom in outbound tourism from

China PRC beyond the traditional destinations

of Hong Kong, Macau and now increasingly

Taiwan is creating unprecedented demand for

Mandarin and Cantonese speakers in the

tourism and hospitality sectors – placing even

required four semesters of English language

study our students are asked to select from

Mandarin, Japanese and Portuguese as an

additional language to be studied over five

semesters. The aim of the foreign language

course is in the acquisition of functional

proficiency whereas English is taught using

English for academic purposes (EAP) and

English for special purposes (ESP) focus.”

Students at IFT must also complete

collaborative projects that assess their ability

to apply theoretical concepts learned in the

classroom. Much of this extramural activity

takes place in the community. ”The emphasis

on collaborative learning, coupled with the

fact that IFT welcomes a number of

international exchange students each

semester, creates a campus environment that

encourages students to use English in their

communication with others,” explained Fanny.

At the Hong Kong PolyU School of Hotel

and Tourism Management there is a different

language landscape. All undergraduate

students in SHTM must successfully complete

a three-credit Chinese language subject as

stipulated by the University. These Chinese

subjects are designed to suit students’

different levels of Chinese language

proficiency at entry. Students may opt to take

additional Chinese subjects in their free

electives. Different Chinese subjects are

designed and offered to suit the language

background and standard of students.

“SHTM students are in an advantageous

position. They grew up in an environment

and system which was basically established

by the colonial Hong Kong government with a

lot of British influence,” says Dr Tony Tse,

Assistant Professor and Programme Director

for Industry Partnerships.

“The environment and system allows the

students to be well connected with the world

and they have an international outlook. They

are, of course, familiar with Chinese culture

and at the same time they feel at ease with

Western culture. While Chinese is the first

language to most students, they started

learning English at a very young age. They are

fluent in English and Chinese. They are also

in an advantageous position being in an SAR

which benefits from the steady economic

growth in mainland China and, in particular,

the phenomenal development in tourism

both inbound and outbound.”

The challenge for schools and universities

across the region is to encourage students to

converse in English once they leave the

classrooms and lecture theatres. Mick Farley

arrived recently in Bangkok as the new

Headmaster of Harrow International School

and he is encouraging all his pupils to

improve their English language

communications skills.

“There is always a danger that students

will slip back into their safety zone and revert

to their native language. It’s an

understandable trait and we are stressing to

our pupils the importance of gaining

confidence in English before they leave

Harrow for universities in English-speaking

countries such as the United Kingdom,

Australia and the United States,” said Mick.

Other languages taught at Harrow, where

pupils are drawn from over 30 countries,

include French, Mandarin, Korean and

Japanese. All pupils must study at least one

foreign language.

Scott Smith, lecturer and careers

counsellor for tourist and hospitality students

at Thailand’s Assumption University, believes

that more language training courses are


“In Thailand, for example, the state

education system faces many challenges and

the improvement of secondary and even

tertiary language skills is simply not seen as a

high priority in so many schools across the

country. We tell our graduates repeatedly that

their use of English will help to determine

their career path.”

Scott Smith, who also serves as Director

of Young Skal in Thailand, predicts that new

career doors will open for tourism and

hospitality students with the advent of the

ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

“We are developing even closer links

between academia and the private sector to

ensure that our students cross successfully

the threshold to new opportunities right

across the ASEAN region,” he says. “Schools

and industry need English ‘appreciation

programmes’. Many leaders with excellent


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During the 16-week Phase One training, students

experience all six major divisions, comprising

Engineering and Environmental, Finance and

Administration, Rooms, F&B, Human Capital and

Sales & Marketing. Hotel ICON indicates week-byweek

tasks in advance with assessments conducted at

the end of each departmental task.

In Phase Two, students choose one or two of the

divisions to work alongside one of the managers

for the remaining 32 weeks. Customised training

programmes and schedules are designed by the

respective division heads. Students may progress

through three stages – corresponding to supervisor,

assistant manager, department head and division

head levels – with division heads overseeing the

effectiveness of the programme. Students are also

required to give presentations on their assigned

projects, which form part of their performance

evaluation criteria.

Upon completion of the programme, in August

2013, students are required to provide a comprehensive

debriefing to SHTM and Hotel ICON. Students who

have completed the programme successfully will

receive a certificate jointly issued by SHTM and Hotel


Mon Repose

Pousada de Mong-Ha, the educational hotel at

the Institute for Tourism Studies, has been rated

the number one choice in Macau by TripAdvisor

subscribers. The hotel, staffed by students enrolled at

IFT, offers 20 deluxe rooms and suites.

Pousada de Mong-Ha has also received a 2012

Travellers’ Choice Award from TripAdvisor as a top 25

hotel in China, sitting in fifth position and sandwiched

between the island Shangri-La and Four Seasons hotels

in Hong Kong.

Pousada is a Portuguese word meaning “place of

blessed repose” although, ironically, Mong-ha hill was

formerly the site of a military barracks.

Guiding Lights

Visitors to Macau have been enjoying free weekend

guided tours of the former Portuguese colony

courtesy of the Institute for Tourism Studies. The IFT

Studies’ Bachelor Degree Programme stresses the

balance between theory and practice and students

are required to perform practical tasks linked to their

specialist subjects. With this in mind, Tourism Business

Management students provide free, guided tours

to tourists and local residents. Five itineraries were

created, each lasting about 90 minutes.

“This tour programme allowed our students to put

what they have learned about tourism into practice.

The whole project, from itinerary design to time

control to the actual tour guiding, was planned by the

students themselves with assistance from instructors.

By coordinating the activity, their communication

skills were also enhanced,” explained IFT President Dr

Fanny Vong.

Mick Farley is the new Headmaster of

Harrow International School in Bangkok.

greater responsibility on academic heads to ensure that their students

are well prepared to fill these vacancies.

“There is no doubt that the volume of tourism from China has

affected a need for both front-line and back office employees who can

serve the demands of this group of tourists. Many of our interns find it

essential to use a combination of English and Chinese (Mandarin or

Cantonese) in their work placements,” said IFT’s Fanny Vong.

For Lu Huong Yong at the UCSI University in Kuching, it’s a bonus.

“This phenomenon actually passes as a boon for Malaysia. Most

Malaysian Chinese master a variety of dialects such as Cantonese,

Foochow and Hokkien and the domestic tourism and hospitality

industry has a large talent pool to choose from,” she said. “Most

Malaysian students are able to communicate in three languages –

English, Bahasa Melayu (Malay) and their mother tongue – and

proficiency in another language undoubtedly gives a further boost to

their employment opportunities.”

In Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong, where Mandarin is now taught

more widely in schools, Dr Tony Tse noted, “The importance of

Chinese language skills depends on the location and target customers.

Given the importance of China as a destination and the rapidly

increasing Chinese outbound market, Chinese language skills will only

become more important in the foreseeable future.”


The needs of today’s students stretch beyond a sound knowledge

and understanding of languages such as English and Mandarin.

Training in the workplace is also a vital ingredient and the links

between academia and industry can be the all-important catalyst to

higher standards.

Lu Huong Yong said that this is a subject of the utmost

importance. “University-industry collaboration is a perennial talking

point in Malaysia and there is an unwritten consensus among higher

education providers that more can be done by the private sector to

uplift the standards of education and training. At UCSI University, our

collaboration with the private sector extends far beyond traditional

approaches that pair interns with industry partners.

The university’s Praxis approach – a learning model that balances

academic mastery with unparalleled workplace exposure – fosters twoway

channels of communication with industry partners and this

partnership is best evinced through the university’s work-based

learning programmes.

Getting with the Program

Robert L. Steele III, CHA President and COO, American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute

(EI), holds court on everything from online courses to tourism as an antidote to unemployment

woes in the US

With so many young people

unemployed in the West these days,

are more students turning to tourism

and the hospitality industry for job


I think that more and more

students are realising that hospitality

and tourism offer them solid job

prospects and a career path that

can take them from entry level to

management in a relatively short time.

With President Obama’s big push to

increase international tourism to the

United States, there is a new focus on

tourism and hospitality. It’s one of the

few economic areas that is currently

showing positive growth, and that

trend is expected to continue. Globally,

we are seeing the same thing. Even in

countries that are experiencing financial

difficulties, such as Greece, hospitality

and tourism is a growing employment


Of the more than 20 positions you

offer certification for, from front-line to general manager, which

are the most popular?

In terms of sheer numbers, the Certified Hotel Administrator

(CHA) for general managers and hotel executives is our most

popular certification. It’s also our oldest, having been introduced

in 1971. Running a close second is the Certified Hospitality

Supervisor (CHS). On an annual basis, the CHS is the most

popular, we certify an average of 1,000 supervisors each year. The

Certified Hospitality Department Trainer (CHDT) and Certified

Lodging Security Officer (CLSO) are also very popular.

I think that soon, all of these will be surpassed by our newest

certification, the Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP). In

just over a year, nearly 4,500 people have earned this certification.

It’s a certification that every hospitality professional – at whatever

level – should hold, because it addresses the heart and soul of our

industry. We have customers in nearly a dozen countries using our

Guest Service Gold training that prepares people to earn the CGSP.

Hotel properties, high schools, colleges, and workforce program

are all incorporating this certification into their curriculum – it’s

that important.

What new trends are you seeing in the hospitality business that

will reshape training programs for students?

There is a big push for online learning and mobile platforms,

and for using social media to deliver training information. This

includes things like Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags

for communication information to groups of people, YouTube

videos, online message boards, and gamification (earning

badges, achieving new “levels” as on a video game). I know of

a restaurant company that sponsored an employee contest to

create their own YouTube training videos. And other brands have

developed training that is delivered on

Playstation/PSP devices. It’s all about

speaking your employees’ language,

and for many of them, that’s video

games and social media.

We are also seeing more and

more places looking for education

and training providers to offer a

professional certification at the end of

a course. Certification is what drives

schools choosing a curriculum for their


How do your online and distance

training courses function?

EI’s online training programs and

distance learning courses are primarily

self-study. Students receive a log-in code

that gives them access to the programs,

which they go through on their own.

The courses have a multiple-choice final

exam that students take online, and

receive their scores immediately. For

our hospitality management courses,

a score of 70% or higher is a passing

grade. Through our CourseLine® system, academic instructors

and property training managers can track the progress of multiple

trainees through the various online courses and programs.

We also have several industry training programs with a high

level of interactivity to engage online learners. They include

skills training programs for front-line positions, supervisory

training, and management training for front office and general

managers. These programs include knowledge checks and quizzes

to measure understanding and progress. These programs can

be purchased individually through our online store, or included

as part of a larger online learning training package through


The Educational Institute has more than 90 licensed affiliates

in 54 countries. What are the challenges of keeping up

global standards while still respecting cultural and political


By working with licensees who are residents of the countries

we serve, we are able to ensure that our materials are presented

within their cultural framework in a way that best meets the

standards of their country. Also, we involve our partners around

the world by welcoming their feedback on existing products and

by surveying them and getting their input during the research and

development process to ensure that our programs are as global

as possible in their appeal and relevance. We aim at developing

global products that fit the local needs of every national industry.

We have also customized programs for several markets to suit

their specifications, for instance, adapting the grammar and syntax

of our CHA program for Australia, filming DVDs with local actors

and competencies for India, or modifying our line-level content

for South Africa.

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Smiles make up an all-important integer in the hospitality equation.

“Our tourism and hospitality students start work at our industry

partners, better known as Praxis associates, as early as the fifth week

of their studies and their performance is constantly monitored by

industry practitioners. Constant feedback is sought from the Praxis

associates and their reports often lead to new insights that we use to

improve the curriculum and teaching approaches as we keep abreast

to changing demands and best practices in the industry.”

Miss Lu believes that this partnership could be enhanced by

industry sponsorship programmes for students displaying high

potential at the university. “Such apprenticeship arrangements will

overcome any financial barriers that may prevent such students from

pursuing their aspirations. By doing so, key players in the hotel industry

would also enhance their future talent pool and this bodes well for

their future growth,” she said.

In an interesting twist, some Praxis associates have sent their own

high potential employees to UCSI as part of their staff development


Dr Tony Tse at the SHTM is hopeful that the private sector can do

still more to help his students. “In addition to scholarships and

internships industry could help enhance hospitality education by

sharing with students the trends and what’s new in the industry,

inviting academic institutions to conduct research on topics of interest

to the industry, provide case studies for education and training

purposes and jointly organise with academic institutions a number of

seminars and workshops to facilitate discussion on topics of interest to

the industry.”

There’s no better way of preparing for a full-time career than by

engaging in practical training. The Hong Kong PolyU School of Hotel

and Tourism Management has launched its Elite Management

Programme (EMP) at the new Hotel ICON.

This new EMP is exposing students to the duties and

responsibilities of Hotel ICON executives, enabling them to have an

insight into various hotel divisions. Designed to give students an

overview of hotel operations, the EMP is also helping them to

appreciate the connections between departments and prepares them

for managerial roles after graduation.

“As the first teaching and research hotel of its kind in the world we

have an obligation to cultivate the next generation of hoteliers,” said

Richard Hatter, General Manager of Hotel ICON. “We are dedicated to

nurturing the very best industry professionals.”

The Elite Management Programme is distinct from similar schemes

as it combines short-term externship (job-shadowing) components,

internships in daily operations, and management trainee programmes.

Students oversee special projects, supervise staff and mentor firsttime

interns and the first intake is now benefiting from working

alongside Hotel ICON executives and attending management

meetings. EMP students also engage with SHTM and Hotel ICON

strategic partners in Hong Kong and in the region.

It was Nelson Mandela who said, “Education is the most powerful

weapon which you can use to change the world.” In the fast-changing

worlds of tourism and hospitality there’s no doubt that the industry

leaders of tomorrow are enjoying unprecedented opportunities to put

Mandela’s assertion to the test.


The School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) in Hong Kong has landed the

McCool Breakthrough Award from the International Council on Hotel, Restaurants and

Institutional Education (I-CHRIE) – the world’s largest organisation of hospitality and

tourism educators.

The award recognises the school’s success in launching Hotel ICON as a further

reflection of its innovative approach to hospitality and tourism education. Hotel ICON is

wholly owned by Hong Kong Polytechnic University and operates as an extension of the


The links between PATA and SHTM were further strengthened with the appointment

of Professor Kaye Chon, Dean of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management, to the

Association’s Board of Directors. Professor Chon has been a leading light for many years

on the PATA education, training and human resources committees. In 2011 he received

the UNWTO Ulysses Prize, sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize in tourism,” for his

lifetime contribution to knowledge creation in tourism.



One of the most influential educators

of his generation, Professor Kaye Chon

is the Dean of the School of Hotel &

Tourism Management at Hong Kong

Polytechnic University

For graduates coming out of your programmes these days, what

are their employment prospects like both in the long and short

term and are the financial incentives strong enough to keep

them in these jobs?

Career opportunities in Hong Kong and in the region are

abundant with the rapid development of the hospitality and

tourism industry. In fact, over the past decades, tourism has

experienced continued growth and diversified to become one of

the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in the world.

Over time, more and more destinations have opened up and

invested in tourism development, turning modern tourism into a

key driver for socio-economic progress.

Most of our graduating students take up their career in hotels,

tourism organisations, travel agents, airlines, airports, theme

parks, conference centres, conference organisers, restaurant chains

and in the wine business.

Some of them work in retail, banking, insurance, property

development, etc, where a strong hospitality orientation is


The first berth of the new cruise terminal in Kai Tak in mid-

2013 will also bring more opportunities for our graduates as well

as the hospitality and tourism industry here in Hong Kong and

the region. The growth of the convention and exhibition industry

in Hong Kong and the region where our graduates will be likely to

pursue their careers is also noticeable.

Have you noticed enrollment increasing in recent years as travel

and tourism become more respected occupations in Asia Pacific?

Yes, indeed. Enrollment is surely to increase especially

when more and more people realise that one of the world’s top

hospitality and tourism schools is right here at their door step. The

total number of our students has increased from about 950 in the

year 2000 to over 2,100 now.

The major strength of our School lies in our international

scope. Our students are guided by an international faculty of 65

academics drawn from 19 countries and regions, with a combined

400 years of hospitality and tourism industry management

experience. This creates a multicultural environment in which

students benefit from a range of innovative teaching and learning

experiences. We have one of the most diverse talent bases of its


Indeed, with Asia rising as the global centre of excellence in

hospitality and tourism, we have already begun to see students

from Europe, the Americas and other Asian countries applying to

our School.

Please tell us about your “Executive Masters in Global

Hospitality Leadership” programme to be launched this coming


Hospitality industry is a fast-growing global industry creating

millions of jobs in the global economic landscape. Leaders with

a skill set for the 21st century are needed to anticipate and shape

the opportunities and challenges for continued success. The

Executive Masters in Global Hospitality Leadership offered by our

School intends to provide a challenging, international leadership

development experience to senior executives.

This programme is the first of its kind in Hong Kong.

What makes it so different is the target participants as well as

programme structure and delivery methods. Specifically geared

towards highly seasoned senior industry executives and hotel

managers with at least 10 years of experience, the programme was

set up to be flexible, which allows executives to set their own pace.

While based in the heart of the booming Asia-Pacific region,

we focus on international education to meet the specific demands

of a now truly global industry.

Our courses are designed in collaboration with industry

professionals, always keeping in mind the specific management

needs of the Hong Kong and Asia-Pacific region.

Run on a part-time basis, the programme can be completed in

two years, or spread over four year maximum.

What was the thinking behind creating Hotel ICON, the first

such training facility of its kind?

We believe that having a hotel as such for the School is in

line with the practice of the top hotel and tourism schools in

the world. The School is widely recognised as a leader in the

region and is ranked second in the word amongst hospitality and

tourism institutions based on research and scholarship. But the

challenge and opportunities for Hong Kong are huge and we are

determined to do even better. With Hotel ICON now in full swing,

we are moving from pursuing a vision of hospitality and tourism

education to being a truly global icon.

As you have noted, Hotel ICON is the world’s first teaching

and research hotel of its kind. Although other universities have

teaching hotels, our approach is unique.

Hotel ICON is a purpose-built hotel that fully integrates

teaching, learning and research in a full service environment.

“Icon” is very meaningful here, as the hotel is a significant symbol

for the future of hospitality education, the future of our industry

and the future of our graduates.

We want students to use the new teaching and research

facilities of Hotel ICON as a launch pad for their dreams. Our

vision is to see them rise to become leaders of hotels, hospitality

businesses and the tourism industry, not only in Hong Kong but

also in the region and around the world.

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