Tourism Education In France And Canada: Are Universities Incorporating Ict?
AbstractThe field of tourism was noted at the 2005 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conference to be global and growing (Keler, 2005). That growth has continued today, with no signs of abatement (Todd, 2008). Globally, international tourists numbered 900 million in 2007 (UNWTO, 2008). This figure is estimated to grow to 1.6 billion by 2020 (World Tourism Organization, 2005) and 1.9 billion by 2030 (Yeoman, 2008). In the two countries (Canada and France) examined in this paper, the tourism industry is important within the economy. Tourism contributes $28.6 billion (CDN) or 9.7 percent of Canada's gross domestic product in 2007 (Hernandez, 2008) and 36.9 million euros or 6.3 percent to France's gross domestic product in 2007 (Ministère de l'Economie des Finances et de l'Emploi, 2008). The tourism industry in Canada provided over 1.8 million jobs in 2006 or 11 percent of the national economy (Tourism Satellite Account, 2008). Despite France being the number one tourist destination in the world, it represents only six percent of its national income (Tourisme Infos Stat, 2008) and two million jobs (French-Property.com, 2008). It must be noted that these figures are based on different components and therefore may not be comparable. In both of these countries, as well as globally, the growth in the tourism industry is facilitated by information and communication technologies (ICT), including the Internet (Bloch and Segev, 1996). It is estimated that half the global B2C e-commerce turnover is in the travel and tourism sector (Fodor and Werthner, 2004-2005). With increasing time and economic pressures, ICT is an increasingly important component of tourism today. ICT facilitates travellers who do not have time to visit travel agencies or are looking to save money and travellers who are looking to design their own travel itinerary. Further, ICT provides an equalizing platform for increasing numbers of tourist destinations, many in developing countries (About UNWTO, n.d.) broadening the competition internationally. This inclusivity is incorporated into the practical environment (Cunliffe, 2008) as discussed by the World Tourism Organization (Tourism 2020 Vision, n.d.). Given that both private and pubic post-secondary educational institutions are the training ground that readies the graduate for the field of practice; these institutions have the opportunity to connect anticipated actions within society (Gherardi, 2009). In using mock real-life situations, it is found that student professionals are capable of learning at a new level with enhanced understanding (Gold et al 2007). With the emergence of ICT and virtual learning communities (Allan, 2007), the question of the inclusion of ICT in the curriculum of tourism programs is raised. Education performs two functions. One is the provision of specific, structured skill development that is based on behavioural modification such that the graduate ‘fits' into the workplace. Although beginning in technical and apprentice programs, many university programs, specifically those training individuals for the professional workplace, have answered industry's call to make higher education relevant to the workplace. The other function is the traditional purview of universities: training students to think independently, analyze, conceptualize, and innovate. Today, the traditional function to prepare them for the evolution occurring in practice has become blurred with institutions of higher education focusing on the established employment needs of their graduates (Gunn, 1991) and the industry (Bount, Castleman, and Swatman, 2005). Recognizing the dichotomy of training for an industry that is becoming more reliant on ICT while individual operators often do not recognize the need for ICT, we examine the educational training in etourism and ICT of graduates from public and private institutions of higher education in France and Canada. We find that the training provided reflects the status of the industry that has few standards. Thus different institutions interpret the industries needs uniquely. Following this discussion, we present recommendations for the industry and the trainers to establish a minimum standard for employability. We begin with a review of the literature that examines the training available for e-tourism.
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Date of creation: 08 Oct 2009
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Publication status: Published - Presented, ECIG 2009, 2009, Sousse, Tunisia
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