Tourism and hospitality programs offer students a world of opportunity

Author: 
Lisa Weighton

More than 50 years since the Beatles’ first hit catapulted the band to international fame, tourists still flock to the United Kingdom for their own magical mystery tours.

For Royal Roads tourism student Mariel Belmont, studying the relationship between rock music and sightseeing in one of the world’s most iconic cities was a chance to integrate her in-class learning with real experience.

Belmont, an international student from Mexico, is one of 25 Master of Arts in Tourism Management (MATM) students who took part in a weeklong field study trip to London, England earlier this year as a requirement of the program. Each studied a unique aspect of the tourism industry from literary tourism to hotel lobby design.

Belmont says meeting Beatles fans while retracing the band’s famous footsteps helped her connect the dots between the theoretical and practical aspects of tourism research.

“In class we learned about global tourism and then you see how it’s applied in real life,” she says. “I observed how people co-construct their own stories according to context.” Prof. Geoffrey Bird

Required field study trips, eco-tours and camping excursions are also part of the Bachelor of Arts in Global Tourism Management and Bachelor of Arts in International Hotel Management programs.

Assoc. Prof Geoffrey Bird, director of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, says experiential learning and tourism go hand-in-hand.

“Experience is the essence of what we sell in tourism. Our students have this thrill of living life through these experiences and that’s important. The world is our laboratory.”

Tourism students experience everything from London’s spectacular attractions to visiting Vancouver Island eco-tour operators to learn about destination development, marketing challenges and sustainable tourism.

“We try to show different kinds of lifestyles one can have if you’re in the field of tourism. So when MATM students go on to do their internships this summer, maybe one of our field trips will have inspired the idea of working here in Canada or overseas, either in the natural wilderness or more of an urban culture scene,” Bird says.

Internships and job shadowing are an example of the university’s Learning and Teaching Model in action says associate faculty member Alejandra Huerta Guerra, who is involved in teaching and internship development with the Bachelor of Arts in International Hotel Management and Bachelor of Arts in Global Tourism Management programs.

“Experiential learning really makes the connection that everything we’ve done from the beginning has a purpose in the workplace and industry,” Huerta Guerra says.