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Rajan Bahadur

CEO, Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council

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#WorldTourismDay- From Adapt To Survive To Upskill And Thrive: How Disruptions Open Up Opportunities For The Tourism And Hospitality Industry

The disruption that tourism and hospitality sectors have faced in the last year and a half is definitely presenting opportunities in various forms.

Tourism industry is one of the economy’s largest assets. No other industry has such a far-reaching multiplier effect on the development of a country. Closely interlinked to the hospitality industry, and with an undeniable, direct and indirect impact on various other sectors like agriculture, construction, healthcare, IT, and more. The vast and unforeseen effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for long after across many businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector. While there has been a devastating impact, every crisis also gives us a chance to reinvent, restructure and reboot.

Opportunity in crisis: from surviving to thriving

The disruption that tourism and hospitality sectors have faced in the last year and a half is definitely presenting opportunities in various forms. The limitations imposed by the pandemic have given us a chance to rethink at a broader level and weed out redundancies of old systems. While the initial goal for most businesses may be survival, eventually this will pave the way for development of newer models that will be here to stay. For instance, usiness hotels are looking at multiskilled workers for efficiency and to expand their offerings to focus on a wider set of customers, tours and travel companies are marketing for destination wedding sites, the industry is giving domestic tourism more focus and attention, niche travel segments such as adventure are seeing a spike as people look to derive more experiential value from their holidays. All these developments open up avenues for current businesses to remodel their offerings and look at a reskilled workforce in accordance with evolving client demands. At Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC), we are focusing on how to bridge the skilling gap that can help the industry and youth meet their full potential for the coming times.

Emerging trends: role of technology, blended curriculum & collaborations

Changing customer expectations mean changing work environments, which needs a workforce that is prepared to meet the new nature of job roles. Ensuring a smooth transition to the new normal begins with revamping our approach to skilling. At THSC, we have focused on agility, adapting to a “blended curriculum” model that combines 50% online theoretical knowledge with 50% offline, on-the-job training. For our industries, with roles that are often dependent on customer touchpoints and senses (taste, touch, smell, feel), this was earlier an unthinkable proposition. However, disruptive times call for nimble adaptation and compelling changes. We also moved quickly to establish tech-enabled Training of Trainers as well as online assessments and certifications so the skilling pipeline doesn’t face any delays, hamper career paths or candidate’s recruitment cycles. We also collaborated with other sector skill councils such as health to train industry workers such as hotel employees to monitor BP, blood sugar, operate oxygen concentrators keeping in mind possible demands of the job. The goal post is constantly shifting and we must think 10 steps ahead to prepare for the future innings today.

Tourism for Inclusive Growth

WTO declared “Tourism for Inclusive Growth” as its theme for World Tourism Day 2021, stating this is an opportunity to look beyond “tourism statistics and acknowledge that, behind every number, there is a person. As we reinvent business models and operational systems in pursuit of economic opportunity, this crisis also gives us a chance to redesign existing structures to make them more inclusive. We must actively identify and upskill those who may be vulnerable to the most adverse impacts of this pandemic. Getting them industry-ready with the most relevant skillsets is the best way to encourage their active participation.

Entrepreneurship, for instance, has seen a spike in lockdowns with smaller enterprises and individual proprietors starting small, home-based ventures such as home bakeries, home kitchens, meal services. This could be a direct or indirect result of vulnerabilities from fewer opportunities in placement and recruitment or because more people were encouraged to professionally use skills derived from hobbies and their passion. What sort of skills, education can help them better participate in our industry?

With many jobs at risk and human faces behind them, we have the responsibility to rethink the conventional in service of a larger objective. Disruptions offer a rare chance to overhaul the state of things in a sector and leave a better, lasting legacy for the future. Reimagining roles, existing operating protocols, improving access to tourism education – these and more innovative ideas for recovery will be critical to translating such a goal into action.

Disruptions certainly throw us, but they also throw up new prospects on the horizon. Approaching skilling in a different way can help us best prepare to make the best use of this potential, even in adversity.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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