The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown crippled the tourism and hospitality industry across the world. Tourism dependent-businesses have also been hit hard since the Covid-induced lockdown was enforced. Experts now believe that the focus of the industry will be on sanitation, safety and wellness.
As the sector is recalibrating with easing of curfews and restrictions, institutes that offer courses on hospitality and tourism are upgrading their curriculum to attract students. “We are planning to add a course on ‘Ayurveda food combinations’ to the curriculum of our hotel management programme as people are increasingly becoming immunity conscious,” said Dr Sanjay Modi, executive dean, faculty of business and arts, Lovely Professional University.
Expecting more jobs in the aviation sector as people are now more conscious about social distancing and hygiene, Modi said the university introduced BBA in Airlines and Airport Management from the current academic session. “Due to the pandemic, people are becoming more inclined towards air travel than any other mode of transport because of the concerns around social distancing and hygiene. Hence, we feel it will lead to more job creation in this sector,” Modi said.
Indian School of Hospitality launched its postgraduate programme in Service Operations Management last year in the middle of the pandemic. “We are adding more elective, specialisation options into the postgraduate programme keeping the Covid-19 phase in mind,” said Kunal Vasudeva, COO and founder, Indian School of Hospitality. He added that the pandemic and the resulting fragility of the situation have made students and parents closely analyse their future choices.
Dr M Sajnani, director of Amity Institute of Travel and Tourism in Noida said they are restructuring their curriculum to meet the current needs, and introducing courses on digital marketing of tourism-related products and services, emerging destinations management, destinations safety and protocols etc. “Besides, we believe that short courses can further skill our students. Therefore, we will introduce certificate courses in tour guiding, wildlife guide, heritage guide, short-term course in wildlife appreciation and naturalist, and in heritage and cultural appreciation,” he said.
Low applications a concern
Some institutes like Amity Institute of Travel and Tourism have seen a dip in the applications last year. “Through short-term courses, we are preparing students to be industry-ready,” Dr Sajnani added.
While the 2020 batch got fewer job offers, the hospitality institutes claim the situation is improving. ISH predicts “they will see 25-30 per cent students get into the startup space”.
Sajnani said the companies will expect new graduates to understand concepts like responsible travel, sustainability skills, etc. “Since these are unprecedented times, freshers will learn how to deal with extraordinary situations and they will witness and contribute to this changing lifestyle and help in setting new industry trends,” he said.
Hotels, tours and travels, cruise and airline companies have been the traditional recruiters but the FMCG sector is also hiring hospitality management students. Sorabh Lakhanpal, associate dean at the division of student affairs at LPU, said the recruiters are more focused on nutrition, immunity-building cooking. “Dieting and nutrition companies are approaching us to hire chefs who can prepare immunity-boosting recipes. A menu that can incorporate organic, fresh local ingredients cooked using traditional Indian techniques seems to be in demand. Health food is a big segment. How to maintain the lifestyle and prevent disorder has been in trend but it will now pick up further, and therefore more jobs will be generated in this segment,” said Lakhanpal.
While hygiene has been part of the pedagogy, it has now taken the centrestage. “Wearing headgears, masks and single-use of plastic items have always been part of students’ training. However, the companies want their employees to understand the etiquettes and concept of sanitisation and good hygiene more,” he added