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Time is prime to study hotel management

Predictions of record growth in the Asia-Pacific hotel and resort sector over the next five years equates to a prime opportunity for school-leavers considering a career in the tourism industry, according to Bond University’s head of Hotel and Tourism Management.

In recent months, Marriott International announced that it expects to more than double the size of its Asia-Pacific portfolio by 2016; Accor flagged that it expects to be operating 700 hotels in the region by 2015; and IHG released figures of more than 1000 hotels in its global development pipeline with plans to recruit around 90,000 people over the next few years.

“Asia-Pacific is clearly the hot spot for tourism development,” said Bond University’s head of Hotel and Tourism Management, Mike Raybould.

“Generally speaking, the economies in this region have not experienced the large-scale GFC downturn seen in Europe and the USA, and they have been quicker to bounce back.

“We’re also seeing a substantial growth of the middle class in major population centres such as India, Indonesia and China which is equating to increased travel for both business and leisure.”

Developers have been quick to jump onto what they see as the ‘next big boom’, with a total of 1,697 hotels equating to 374,523 rooms currently in the construction, final planning or planning stage, according to the October 2012 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report for the Asia-Pacific.

“The key challenge for all these new properties will be to source staff,” said Raybould, who has conducted extensive research into industry employment trends.

“Their focus in the first instance will be to build strong management teams and they’ll be looking for applicants who can match recent and relevant qualifications with industry experience.”

With Australia already experiencing a skills shortage in the tourism sector, government and industry have introduced a range of programs to attract and upskill the local labour market.

Through Tourism Australia’s Tourism 2020 strategy, a Labour and Skills Working Group has been established to roll out a number of programs designed to enhance the industry’s recruitment and retention rates, as well as addressing education and training gaps.

Bond University partnered with Marriott International in 2008 to develop a hotel and tourism degree built around upper-level management skills such as accounting, marketing, facilities management, human resource management and the like.

“Working with Marriott and other international hotel operators such as IHG and Accor, we identified a major shift in the industry whereby promotion to senior management would no longer be based on working your way up through the ranks,” said Raybould.

“The industry was crying out for graduates equipped with the high level business skills required to manage a complex organisation, whilst still having an understanding of grassroots operations.

“Bond’s response was to develop business-style degree tailored specifically for the industry which also incorporates at least 400 hours of work experience through internships and placements.

“Consequently, our students have been extremely successful in gaining entry to Graduate Management Programs with top-tier employers operating in the key growth economies throughout Asia-Pacific and the Middle East,” he said.

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