Paper qualifications are not essential for all the tourism industry since it is a 'people industry' and experience of working with the public is a skill that is rated very highly. However some areas of the industry are highly competitive and are very difficult to get into without paper qualifications. For people without any qualifications at all work tends to be poorly paid and seasonal. There is a great range of qualifications on offer from basic introductory courses up to degree level with many being run at your local college.
Always check that qualifications are recognised by a professional body so that you know it meets the standards required by the industry you are going into (especially if you are paying a private college or training organisation).
If you are thinking of setting up your own business - from running a B&B to opening a visitor attraction - you can find short courses at your local college and through your local regional tourism board. These can include running a B&B, food hygiene courses, first aid, book-keeping, customer service, countryside management, language courses. Basic skills courses to improve your English or maths are usually free.
Tourism related qualifications available at your local college include:
NVQ levels 1 to 3 Travel services, animal care, sport and recreation, amenity horticulture, vehicle engineering, catering and hospitality, playwork, customer services. These teach work-based skills and you can study them whilst working.
First and National Diplomas/Certificates in countryside management, sport, horticulture, catering. These are usually studied full-time and provide work experience.
GNVQs and AVCEs in Leisure and Tourism, Business, Travel and Tourism. These work-related courses can be studied full-time or part-time at college.
Higher National Certificate and Diplomas (HNCs and HNDs) in a range of tourism related subjects. The HNC can be studied part-time whilst the HND is part-time.
Modern Apprenticeships and National Traineeships allow you to work for an employer and study at college.
Many tourism organisations also provide training:
The regional tourist boards host one day courses and training sessions such as 'Welcome Host' - a one-day training programme which concentrates on improving customer care skills. They also offer information and tips on running and improving your business www.tourismtrade.org.uk/
The travel and tourism industry also has its own qualifications which you can study for once you are working in the travel and tourism industry these include:
ABTA College of Open Learning, Woking, Surrey. Tel: 01483 727321
ABTA National Training Board, Waterloo House, 11-17 Chertsey Road, Woking, Surrey. GU21 5AL Tel: 01483 727321
Hotel and Catering Management Association validates many catering, hospitality, leisure and tourism courses www.hcima.co.uk
Courses run by your regional tourism office can be found at www.tourismtrade.org.uk/
For more information on tourism careers, use our Careers Information web pages at http://www.wiltshire.ac.uk/careers.