Career Options in Tourism Management


Tourism is a very popular and common word in every nook and corner of the world. In common parlance, it is concerned with pleasure holidays, travel going or arriving somewhere. These are the motivation that makes people leave their normal place of work and residence for short term temporary visits to other places. For an increasing number of people, work is no longer the main purpose of life and this encourages tourism. The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) defines tourism as, “the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited”.

Tourism, both domestic and international, is taking place on such a large scale that it has become a major economic activity in the world. Tourism is also called an ‘Industry’- we often term it as a smokeless industry, or, an industry without chimneys. An industry is that provides jobs to the people. So does tourism; tourism provides more jobs than any other industry because it is essentially a service industry. Worldwide it provides more jobs than any other industry except agriculture, especially in the developed countries like USA, UK, France and Italy. It is highly labour-intensive as it is essentially a service industry, which requires personnel at every level.

Tourism industry has emerged as one of the fastest growing industries, contributing to 10% of the world's economy making it the single largest service industry globally, in terms of gross revenue, as well as foreign exchange earnings. Tourism is the highest generator of employment globally. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the number of international travelers has risen to more than 500 million per annum, which means that one out of every ten inhabitants of this planet is a tourist. The availability of better and faster means of transport and communications has resulted into massive movements of people throughout the world, drawing them closer through experiencing and appreciating different cultures and life styles.

In India also, tourism management is one of the fastest growing industries and it offers an exciting future. It deals with the planning and management of travel and tourism. It is one of the most profitable industries and has created more than 20 million jobs in India. There are many parts to tourism industry like, accommodation, transportation, food and beverage, attractions, events and conferences, adventure tourism, travel trade, and tourism services. A significant feature of tourism industry is that it employs a large number of educated men and women. Women, in fact, outnumber men in hotels, airlines, travel agencies, handicrafts and cultural activities.

Tourism is an exciting and dynamic sector that is constantly changing. It can affect people’s lives in many different ways: for tourists it can be a source of lifelong memories, joy and fulfillment, and for business and destinations it is a source of income and employment. As tourism has grown and become and an ever more prominent activity, tourism studies as an academic field has also developed. At the same time, severe competition in the job market resulted in the increasing demand for a range of professional programmes, which guarantees both career growth and jobs. Many professional programmes are now offered at undergraduate, postgraduate levels as well as PhD programmes. Among the biggest money spinners, Tourism happens to be a dream career in India. Tourism as a Career Option in India has therefore gained immense popularity. Many universities/institutes offer short term Certificate, Diploma, Undergraduate, Post-graduate Degree level and research degree programmes in Tourism Studies.

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), which was established by an Act of Parliament in 1985 with a mission to advance frontiers of knowledge and promote its dissemination, is one of the Universities in India which are offering courses on Tourism Studies. The university enables access to higher education to a wide cross section of students who are unable to access and also who wish to pursue their higher studies but doesn't have enough time for the regular classes. Since its establishment, it has contributed considerably to the development of higher education in the country through the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode. The University popularly known as ‘People’s University’ follows a learner-centric approach and has successfully adopted a policy of openness and flexibility in entry qualifications, time taken for completion of a programme, and place of study.

The mandate given to the University is to reach out to the marginalised and disadvantaged sections of our society. Living up to its mandate, the university which began by offering two academic programmes in 1987, i.e., Diploma in Management and Diploma in Distance Education with a strength of 4,528 students, today IGNOU is offering more than 490 programmes of study through 21 Schools of Studies with an enrollment of over 4 million students and has emerged as one of the largest University in the world.

IGNOU offers a series of Programmes of Study in Tourism Studies- Certificate, Diploma, BA in Tourism Studies and MA in Tourism and Travel Management, under the School of Tourism and Hospitality Services Sectoral Management (SOTHSSM). Ph.D. Programme in Tourism Studies is also on offer. Some of the major objectives of the SOTHSSM School are: • To produce high quality research, emphasising both societal and industry needs. • To develop and offer post-graduate, bachelor’s degree, diploma and certificate programmes independently and in collaboration with national and international institutions/ organisations/ industry. • To offer capacity-building training programmes, on-the-job training programmes, entrepreneurial development programmes and management development programmes for various levels, independently and in collaboration with national and international institutions/ organisations/ industry.

The Certificate Programme in Tourism Studies is aimed at familiarising the learners with varied aspects of tourism, creating awareness on tourism and basic training in organising tourism services and opening career opportunities. Diploma in Tourism Studies provides learners with the facility to specialise in the chosen operational areas in tourism studies and helps them acquire associated skills.

The objective of BA in Tourism Studies is to provide knowledge, competence and skills in the professional area of tourism to the learners. However, MA in Tourism and Travel Management is a professional programme designed to cater to the needs of the tourism industry. It is useful for those who are either employed or intend to make a career in tourism sector at managerial level.

Today, IGNOU has almost 12,000 students enrolled in the tourism studies programmes. All these programmes were developed in consultation with experts from the tourism industry, industry associations and academicians. All faculty members of the School are members of the Indian Tourism Congress. IGNOU is also an institutional-allied member of the Indian Association of Tour Operators.

Being a very wide field, the job prospects in tourism sector after successfully completion of tourism studies programmes/courses is very bright and the potential is still largely untapped. Career opportunities exist both in the public and private sector. In the public sector, there are opportunities in the Directorates and Departments of Tourism of the Centre and the State as officers, information assistants, tourist guides, etc. Another good prospect for qualified tourism professionals are in the private sector with travel agencies, tour operators, airlines, hotels, transport and cargo companies, etc. The opening up of the skies to private airlines and their emerging tie-ups with foreign airlines has removed bottlenecks in the transport and communication network resulting in easy flow of domestic and foreign tourists in the country. Since this is a new area of employment, not many qualified and experienced people are available and the promotion prospects are also very bright and rapid. After a few years of experience, one can also start their own business by handling all travel requirements of a client and gradually building up business, taking on additional employees.

By Dr. N. Samungou Singh

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