How valuable are tourism degrees? the views of the tourism industry
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CitationPetrova, P. and Mason, P. (2004) 'How valuable are tourism degrees? The views of the tourism industry', Association for Tourism in Higher Education, Annual Conference: Critical Issues in Tourism Education, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, UK. Great Missenden: Association for Tourism in Higher Education, pp.99-106.
TypeConference papers, meetings and proceedings
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The value of tourism degrees: an investigation of the tourist industry’s views on tourism degrees and tourism graduatesPetrova, Petia (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2008-09)The rapid expansion of tourism degrees over the last 30 years has been fuelled by the expansion of Higher Education, the popularity of tourism as an area of study, and the attraction of tourism careers. However, the tourism industry has not always been involved in these developments, nor appreciative of tourism degrees. Tourism employers have suggested that tourism graduates do not meet their needs, and voiced concern about the relevance of tourism degrees. Yet, there has not been a comprehensive study which explores employers' perceptions of the value of tourism degrees. This thesis aims to address this by providing an in-depth exploration of how tourism employers perceive the value of tourism degrees. To achieve this aim, a mixed method approach was adopted. A qualitative approach to this study was employed in its first stage. The findings from this stage were used to inform the second quantitative stage. The results indicate that the perceived value of tourism degrees is based on both its employment relevance and academic status. From an employment perspective, the majority of jobs available to graduates are entry level jobs which do not require holding a degree. These jobs are often customer facing, with what employers term as 'personality' being considered a key requirement. Tourism degrees are not seen to contribute to graduates meeting this requirement. Rather, they are seen to contribute to gaining knowledge of the industry, which incidentally is low on the employers' list of requirements. The importance of relevant work experience where skills such as customer-service skills can be developed and demonstrated should thus not be overlooked. Work experience schemes based on cooperation between universities and the industry could also have a positive effect on graduates' employability not only by expanding their work experience, but also because such cooperation is often linked to a more positive view ofthe value of tourism degrees. Where jobs which do require holding a degree are concerned, employers indicated that tourism degrees do not provide an advantage. They associated tourism degrees with new universities, and perceive graduates from new universities to exhibit deficiencies in higher level graduate skills. This suggests that although the expansion of HE was designed to meet the needs of the economy, employers may not be convinced of its benefits. The results indicate that regardless of whether the tourism degrees provide good, sound academic base, if employers associate them with former polytechnics and lower academic standards they will still opt for graduates from elite institutions and more traditional degree subjects.
Conceptualising 'quality of a tourism destination': an investigation of the attributes and dimensions of quality of a tourism destinationSeakhoa-King, Arthur (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2007-04)Tourism destinations need to continuously improve in quality to succeed, if not to survive. To improve quality, current levels need to be measured to identify areas requiring improvement. However, no adequate technique for measuring the quality of a tourism destination has yet been developed. More importantly, tourists' understanding of the meaning of the term 'quality of a tourism destination' has not been investigated; a pre-requisite step for developing a technique for measuring the quality of a tourism destination. This thesis aims to ascertain the attributes and dimensions of quality of a tourism destination and to specify implications for the development of a technique for measuring its quality. To achieve this aim, a qualitative research approach is employed in the first stage of the thesis. The findings from this stage are used to inform the ensuing, mainly quantitative phase. The main results are summarised here. Firstly, seventy-five attributes and twelve dimensions of quality of a tourism destination were revealed in the qualitative phase of the study. Secondly, in the quantitative stage, an analysis of mean score values revealed that tourists strongly associated all seventy-five attributes and twelve dimensions with the quality of a tourism destination. Thirdly, it was established that the twelve dimensions of quality of a tourism destination differ in either breadth or scope from both service quality dimensions widely used in tourism and product quality dimensions from the quality management field. This thesis suggests that the quality of a tourism destination can best be defined as 'conformance to tourist requirements'. The main hypothesis; that there are significant differences in interpretations of the meaning of 'quality of a tourism destination' within groups oftourists, is rejected. Finally, the thesis ascertains that a tool for measuring the quality of a tourism destination can be developed based on the findings of the thesis. Such a tool, though predominantly quantitative, should include open-ended questions. This would allow changing tourist needs to be captured periodically and the results used to update the tool for measuring the quality of a tourism destination.
Tourism and development: using tourism as a strategy for poverty reduction in Narok District, KenyaKareithi, Samuel (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2004-03)This dissertation uses a livelihood analysis approach to examine the potential role of tourism as a strategy for poverty reduction. While many studies have examined the role of tourism in economic and local area development in developing countries, this research focuses on understanding the impact of tourism upon the livelihoods of poor people, in this case Narok in Kenya. The thesis first reviews the theoretical explanations and definitions of poverty within the discourse of development studies. The key argument of the thesis is that the continued macro economic focus for tourism development in developing countries is inappropriate for targeting poverty. The macro economic disc0~[se assumes that the benefits of economic growth from tourism will trickle down through a series of economic multiplier processes to 'poorer' sections of the population. Yet, this research shows that poor people have different definitions of poverty from those that are conventionally used in macroeconomics. Poor people's definitions are based upon their own local circumstances of making a livelihood. It is argued that it is therefore necessary to understand the term 'poverty' as defined by the 'poor' in order to produce tourism strategies that are 'pro poor'. Using multiple methods and narratives of poverty experiences in the Narok District of Kenya, the study investigates the local perceptions of poverty amongst poor people that participate in tourism livelihood activities. Using a livelihood analysis, the study examines the economic, social and political factors that affect how poor are able to access and use tourism in their livelihoods. Subsequently, recommendations are made on the institutional structures that would enhance the livelihood opportunities for poor people in Narok. The research concludes that for tourism to maximize its contribution to poverty reduction, various policy and institutional adjustments are necessary in order to shift the economic benefits of tourism towards poor people. Such changes would not only secure the livelihoods of those already involved in tourism, but also expand the potential for poor people who are currently excluded from economic participation in tourism.