Do tourism students still have confidence in the face of the health and climate crisis?

REPORT – Epidemic context, environmental concerns… Despite the crisis and the changes that are rocking the sector, these young French people are learning at school to invent tomorrow’s tourism. Le figaro went to meet them.

Do you think Covid-19 makes us travel differently?The question was asked around fifteen students of the Masters in Destination Management at the Excelia School of Tourism in La Rochelle. The poll turns into a debate. The students discuss and argue under the watchful eye of Sophie Lacour. This tourism forecasting expert and director of the company Advanced Tourism gives you a first lesson on innovation this Monday in November. The affirmative seems to undoubtedly win.

It is difficult to ignore the health crisis when destined for a career in tourism. While the sector has been idle for two years due to border closures, do students still have confidence? Health measures have deprived many of them of internships or educational projects that are crucial to their education. After working for a few years in hotels, tourist offices or municipalities, sometimes in managerial positions, they are at the forefront of the changes that are shaking the industry. Responsible or local tourism, environmental concerns, the fight against overcrowding… So many issues that are redefining travel and that must be taken into account today.

The desire to travel is still there, the industry is recruiting and the actors are sensitive to the younger generation’s search for meaning

Pascal Capellari, Director of the Excelia Group’s Technical Schools

The Covid, a “chance» Reinvent travel

There is no vocation crisisassures Pascal Capellari, director of Excelia. The desire to travel is still there, the industry is recruiting and the actors are sensitive to the younger generation’s search for meaning.While enrollments are stable compared to previous years, the number of graduates with a BTS in Tourism (Bac +2) pursuing a Bachelor (Bac +3) has increased over the past two years despite the context. The La Rochelle campus welcomes around 600 students, to which will be added around fifty students in the new Tours branch, which opened in September 2020. The school is the only one in France to have TedQual certification. It is supplied by the World Tourism Organization (UN dependent) and certifies the quality of the training programs and their adequacy to the needs of the world market.

The changes affecting this market hardly seem to discourage the students one encounters Le figaro. “Since I work in tourism, I’ve thought about it since I was littleSays Rémy, who is enrolled in the first year of a master’s degree at Excelia. “The sector is by definition vulnerable to crises, whether global or local. You have to know how to constantly adapt‘, emphasizes the 21-year-old student. Having already completed his bachelor’s degree at the Vatel hotel management school in Brussels, he wanted to continue his studies with a degree in tourism in order to “more general view of the sector“. And to draw the contours of the hotel industry of tomorrow: “The customer approach will change and focus on proximity and personalization. Hotels no longer have to differentiate themselves by price, but by service.» The desire for tailor-made solutions that, more than ever, tourism stakeholders must integrate to meet the needs of travelers.

Ecology, proximity… Implicit aspects of formation

The students of the BTS Tourism of the National School of Commerce (ENC) Bessières Paris (the only public of the Paris Academy), recent graduates, have not yet matured their professional project, but the story remains the same. “If we have to acknowledge one positive aspect of the health crisis, it is that we have finally taken the time to discover our region and our country. It’s a habit that must be maintained even after the epidemic is over.says Louna, currently on an internship at a travel agency. And his comrade Leo to hit back: “The journey isn’t just Tahiti or the Seychelles; It’s also the banks of the Loire, rural France… You don’t have to travel across the world to get away from it all!»

Students also have to contend with environmental issues that existed before the outbreak of the pandemic. At Excelia, from the beginning of the first master’s year, the subject is covered in a course aptly titled “New Trends and Challenges in Tourism”, although there is no course labeled “Sustainable Tourism”. “This is a fundamental theme in all of our training courses. We even talk about it in accounting courses!observes Dylan, a third-year French-British bachelor who would like to work in destination communications.

Educational cases to confront the field

To keep up with new trends, students benefit from the expertise of the fifteen teacher-researchers who make up Excelia’s research center. The rise of solo travelers among women, travelers’ expectations of the ecological approach of furnished tourist accommodation… So many fields of study that the students contribute to. This laboratory was even chosen by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region to support the recovery of tourism and the hospitality industry in spring 2021.

Research is a question in the master’s program in which the students have to write a thesis on a topic of their choice. One trend stands out:A large part of the memoirs refers to the position of the inhabitant in the tourist offerreports Pascal Capellari. This reflects the desire to involve them more in tourism promotion, to make them ambassadors of their city or region, so to speak.»

The students are also confronted with the specialist area as part of internships and working student activities. Between three and four months of internships are planned at the ENC during the two years of BTS. At Excelia, students in the third year of their bachelor’s degree can choose between a dual course of study or a six-month internship. During their studies, they regularly work on educational case studies, sometimes with the help of companies. At the beginning of 2022, some master’s students will use a trip to La Gacilly in Brittany to support the cosmetics company Yves Rocher in its tourism development strategy for the region.

A “Network of Excellence Training Courses in Tourism”

Bringing students and businesses closer to tourism is one of the government’s goals. On November 20, 2021, Prime Minister Jean Castex unveiled a tourism recovery plan called Destination France. Among other things, it provides for the creation of a “network of training courses for excellence in tourism”. Scheduled for the first quarter of 2022, it should be based in particular on the Conference of Excellence in Tourism Training (CFET) launched in 2015 with the support of Atout France (French Agency for Tourism Development) and which brings together in particular Excelia, the UFR ESTHUA Tourism and Culture of Angers or the Hotel School Ferrandi.

Objective: “to make attractive and visible for students and their families, companies and territories excellent training based on a complete and integrated tourism sector”. The government wants to create 400 training positions from bac +1 to bac +5 by 2024. A renewal of talent that Pascal Capellari says will allow France (the world’s most visited country) to maintain its edge over emerging tourist destinations. A challenge that the students are happy to face. “We all have to bring a stone to the building“Excited Louna.

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