In conjunction with the 2017 Feria Internacional del Turismo (FITUR) held in Madrid in January, Les Roches Global Hospitality Education CEO, Sonia Tatar, represented the educational sector at the INVESTOUR conference.
For the last eight years, INVESTOUR has become an unrivaled platform for the exchange of information and business opportunities focused on the African continent. In this eighth edition, the event was attended by more than 20 ministers of tourism from African countries, who discussed the opportunities that the sector can offer to the continent.
Investour 2017 focused on two main themes: “technology and design of new tourism products” and “capacity building for young people and women in tourism”. The UNWTO has declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and the initiatives presented during Investour gave increasing importance to sustainable business practices.
Tourism Growth & Education in Africa
In 2016, Africa received 58 million international tourists, 8% more than in 2015. According to the UNWTO forecast, this figure would reach 134 million in 2030. The interest of tourism companies in the continent has also increased. As the World Bank stressed in 2015, rapid economic growth and the significant improvement in the business climate in Africa opens up new prospects for international companies.
With strong growth forecasted for the African continent over the next decade, specialized education and training for the hospitality sector will play an important role by empowering professionals with the tools and knowledge needed to lead and innovate future tourism-related enterprise.
Despite optimistic growth forecasts in African tourism, a shortfall in skilled talent could stymie the region’s evolution. Sonia Tatar, CEO of Les Roches Global Hospitality Education, discussed how the institution’s specialized hospitality training is poised to help fulfill the talent gap in emerging economies. She emphasized the need to sustainably strengthen localized talent while addressing the challenging shortage in technical skills and quality of hospitality services in an expanding market like Africa.
In addition to becoming an affiliated member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization in 2016, Les Roches Global Hospitality Education has also entered into a new partnership with the Rwandan Workforce Development Authority (WDA) to assist meeting this need globally as well as on the African continent. This collaboration is designed to allow Les Roches to provide guidance and expertise to the WDA to support its creation of a new hospitality management institute in Rwanda. The aim is to produce new learning opportunities for African students in hospitality and help develop local talents.
The Les Roches Curriculum Focuses on Innovation
Addressing the participants of INVESTOUR, Ms. Tatar also discussed how innovations in technology are disrupting hospitality and tourism while creating new opportunities. Travelers today have access to online travel agencies, peer-to-peer services and seamless travel experiences that were once only available to a discerning few. Ms. Tatar stressed that technology will continue to dominate the hospitality industry, which means digital skills must be integrated into the curriculum of hospitality programs in addition to practical experience, soft skills and business management acumen.
Les Roches has been incorporating the latest innovations, technology and tools in its educational model. The Les Roches curriculum features more tech-focused courses with an outlook on the future. New computer labs are equipped for teaching courses and skills in web design, multimedia creation and app development as part of student business or start-up projects. A tech lab collecting the latest innovations fosters the development of digital skills, and the collaborative learning process acts as an incubator for young entrepreneurial students.
Ms. Tatar continued by highlighting Les Roches Alumni from Africa who have gone on to become successful hospitality entrepreneurs in countries like Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, and Morocco. Concluding her presentation, Ms. Tatar detailed to the participants of Investour how the Les Roches education system is unique and its results are seen on every continent. Education, she stressed, is a driving force for growth in any territory and scope.