Traditionally, degree level minded hospitality sector students head abroad to learn their skills. But one homegrown course is trying to change that by offering the same thing here.
--BY KRISHANA PRASAIN
The Nepali tourism sector, after numerous setbacks, has been showing encouraging signs of recovery. The opening of new hotels and tourist destinations across the country has, by all accounts, ushered in a new era for the nation’s tourism industry, bringing with it a new entrepreneurial spirit as well as employment opportunities.
However, the lack of qualified manpower and specialised higher level university courses in travel and tourism has been one overarching factor diminishing rapid growth in the calibre of personnel working in the hospitality and travel sector. Given the absence of such courses, many Nepali students opt to study subjects like hotel management abroad.
But it’s not a total blackout. Options may be limited, but there are opportunities for students to actually study the subject as a full degree here. The Master of Travel and Tourism Management (MTTM) is one such course which is aimed at developing human resources for sustainable tourism management, new tourism products and services and the concept of doing business online.
Nepal College of Travel and Tourism Management (NCTTM), affiliated to Tribhuvan University (TU), has been running the programme since 2009. Accredited internationally, this is the only course of its kind in the country.
“With its abundant natural and cultural diversity, Nepal has become a prominent tourism destination,” says Pranesh Sharma, Principal of NCTTM. He adds that career prospects are growing in this field with opportunities widening. According to him, students of MTTM will be taught about the importance of the tourism sector, sustainable tourism, events and conference management, airlines operation management including knowledge on finance, tourism marketing, and strategic human resource management, among others.
The college says MTTM’s objective is to provide students an insight into the travel and tourism industry from both a practical and theoretical perspective. The course will help students to understand and apply the concepts of crisis management, market research, conflict transformation and peace building and sustainable tourism management in real-work scenarios.
“Many of our graduates are working at various airlines at present. Similarly, some have opened their own travel agencies while others are working as tour agents,” says Sanjib Ghimire, Programme Coordinator at NCTTM. He also says that some graduates are working in different non-governmental organisations such as the Himalayan Trust and also working abroad. “The graduates are also working as trekking and tour guides as well,” he adds.
Tourism is one of the sectors where anybody can set up a business with a small investment. “However, knowledge is one important thing which will help run that business smoothly and effectively,” points out Ghimire.
The college also runs vocational courses such as culinary training and Global Distribution Systems (GDS) airlines ticketing training. NCTTM also runs a Bachelor of Travel and Tourism Management (BTTM) and Bachelor of Hotel Management (BHM).
Tourism is one of the important sectors which generates revenue and is one of the country’s fastest growing industries. “The Nepali tourism sector has been thriving in recent years. However, the lack of adequate human resources across multiple areas of tourism is a problem. We introduced the programme in order to produce a skilled workforce,” says Sharma. “The programme is designed to produce senior level tourism professionals to fulfill the demand of the industry.”
MTTM is a two-year course divided into four semesters. The third semester of the programme includes an internship and the fourth semester focuses on the student’s thesis. The programme includes both management and tourism courses. The students are also required to conduct a field study.
The first semester syllabus includes Principles of Tourism & Hospitality Management, Organizational Behavior, Tourism Economics, Research Methodology and Marketing Management. Similarly, the second semester consists of Tourism Entrepreneurship, Financial Planning & Control, Tourism Law and Environment, Travel Information Management and Strategic Tourism Management. Likewise, subjects in the third semester include Strategic Human Resource Management, International Tourism and Contemporary Issues, Elective Area-I and Internship Project (an internship project within the host organisation). Meanwhile, the fourth semester includes Strategic Tourism Marketing, Tourism Planning & Policy Analysis, Elective Area-II and a Final Project.
The Elective Area-I includes multiple choices where students can choose any two subjects such as Management of Travel Agency & Tour Operations, Sustainable Tourism, Crisis Management in Tourism, Airlines Operations Management, Conflict Transformation and Peace Building and Event and Conference Management. In the meantime, the Elective Area-II incorporates Hotel Operation Management, National Parks Management, Tourism Impact Management, Public Relations and Promotions, Tourism Product Development and Contemporary Issues in Tourism (seminar course).
MTTM has wide scope in the tourism sector. Graduates can join hotels, travel, tour and trekking agencies, airlines, cruise ships and also can work as tourist guides. Similarly, they can also work in tourism related associations and organisations. According to Ghimire, the college has been providing a workforce to the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) on a contract basis. Likewise, graduates can also explore areas in the aviation sector. “Students will also be able to start their own travel agency business,” mentions Ghimire. “Our students are also working as interns in reputed airline companies such as Fly Dubai and Nepal Airlines,” he adds.
Students from recognised universities and from any faculty securing a second division can join the programme. Interested students need to appear in the CMAT exam held by TU and must score a minimum of 40 percent to enroll in the programme. TU offers 40 seats on MTTM annually in one intake.
The total cost the programme is currently Rs 320,000 and students can make the payment on a semester wise basis where the fees for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th semesters are Rs 110,000, Rs 75,000 and Rs 75,000 and Rs 60,000 respectively.
NCTTM located at Ratopul runs classes in the evening. There are two classes per day from Sunday to Thursday.