Let’s travel together.

Filling the void

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Smeeta Gulvady

With the rising demand in new destinations, unique experiences, special interest tours, foreign exchange needs and more, the travel and tourism industry needs more manpower, highly skilled and trained professionals to cater to the demand. Centre of Learning -Thomas Cook India understands this need of the industry which is facing an attrition rate of 15-30 per cent and hence strives to effectively provide the industry with a unique inflow of well trained and highly skilled professionals, ready to be absorbed into the workforce, thereby adding value to the organisation through their well rounded knowledge and training. Smeeta Gulvady, vice president and head, Centre of Learning -Thomas Cook India says, “There is an increase in awareness of the travel and tourism industry. Students are more demanding, and some of them are focused on their career path. Hence vocational education has assumed a greater significance as it can help youth soar in fulfillment of their aspirations.”

The Centre of Learning (COL) offers a range of programmes from basic to advanced levels for travel aspirants, students and working executives, ranging from four months to two years duration. It also offers a variety of post graduate courses including a three month certificate course in World Tour management; a one year Travel Professional Programme – a diploma in travel and tourism management inclusive of an internship and a two year International Tourism Business Course in association with the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM). The training institute also provides an array of IATA under graduate and post graduate courses. “The Travel Professional programme – a post graduate diploma in travel and tourism management, which is for one year including a paid internship, has its selected candidates undergoing comprehensive training on the various facets of the travel and tourism industry. The curriculum has been designed keeping in mind the needs of the dynamic travel industry. Thomas Cook (India) provides 100 per cent placement assistance to all students,” Gulvady boasts of. Keeping in mind the needs of the industry with cruise passengers growing multi-fold, the cruise module is an integral part of their programme. “Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with a fleet that includes the world’s largest cruise ships. This tie-up is the first of such initiatives in India. RCI is a premium cruise brand and we are proud of this partnership,” she says.

Career prospects

As a professional, one’s prospects of a robust career growth in the travel and tourism will be extensive. “Besides being in the travel operations field, sales, marketing, he can join the aviation sector or even work as a travel counsellor, corporate desk. An individual can also explore career opportunities in corresponding fields like event management, adventure tourism and teaching amongst others. The professional can look at launching his own travel agency,” she highlights while elaborating on the job profile that students can choose after completing a travel and tourism course. Since the key to success is the quality of teaching faculty, the institute has drawn in experienced faculty from academics and the industry. “Our own faculty is equipped with requisite qualifications and industry experience. We draw from a pool of internal COL resources – visiting faculties from IITTM, South Asia’s best Travel & Tourism Institute, regular guest lecturers from the industry to give students a perspective of the industry. TCIL has also initiated ‘Disha’ a platform which invites research papers in the field of travel and tourism; this initiative has been taken due to the paucity of research in tourism,” Gulvady highlights.

When asked on the reason behind students opting for a travel and tourism course degree abroad, she opines, “The most significant reason for opting for a tourism course abroad is the global exposure achieved. However India being the fastest growing destination in terms of tourism, there are immense career opportunities for travel and tourism aspirants here and quality training centres for pursuing them.” So does a foreign degree enable a student to command higher salaries than their counterparts competing for a course in India. “This is not necessarily true,” she exclaims.

The institution provides intensive industry-centric training with internships as an integral part of their programmes. The learning is not restricted to classroom training. Study tours to understand and observe the finer nuances of travel is also undertaken. “We emphasise on experiential trainings through field visits, wherein students are required to submit reports based on their visit. There are assignments, individual/group projects before the certification is awarded. The purpose behind launching management courses in travel is to be able to provide a platform for individuals to build their career in the travel and tourism sector,” she mentions. On successful completion of the course, students receive an opportunity to work within Thomas Cook India based on their performance during the course. “We have always believed in our objective of proactively facilitating talent management for travel industry,” she adds.

Here students are, trained to take up challenging and careers in the travel and tourism industry. “The industry requires a healthy combination of articulate, highly skilled and trained professionals. COL aspires to bridge this gap by proactively facilitating the talent management in the travel industry,” she concludes.