Marketing training provides competitive edge in tourism

by Sophie Leung

Sangeeta Narwani, programme director
College of Business and Finance
HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education
Photo: Nolly Leung

Tourism has long been one of Hong Kong's pillar industries. The sector has grown steadily over the past decade, boosted by rapid economic growth across the region and the opening of major new attractions. Seeing a brighter future, many tourism professionals believe it is essential for them to engage in continuous learning to expand their skills and grasp the opportunities on offer.

Responding to the industry's growing need for trained staff, the HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education (HKU SPACE) has launched a number of hospitality and tourism programmes since 2002.

The latest addition is an advanced diploma programme focusing on tourism and marketing —t he first of its kind in Hong Kong.

The part-time diploma programme, to be launched in October this year, will introduce tourism marketing professionals to the essential skills and knowledge needed to understand industry dynamics and trends.

"Marketing knowledge is essential for individuals looking to further their careers in the tourism industry," says Sangeeta Narwani, programme director, College of Business and Finance, HKU SPACE. "On a corporate level, businesses are more likely to succeed if they have their marketing strategies mapped out correctly. This too is applicable to the development of tourism businesses that need to employ marketing strategies."

Dr Narwani notes that both marketing and tourism practitioners will be better equipped for future challenges if they make use of knowledge from the two disciplines to help organisations formulate marketing strategies. She believes that operational know-how alone is not enough to gain and maintain a strong foothold in the tourism sector today. For this reason, professionals must understand the underlying marketing philosophy and be creative thinkers.

"Tourism is all about offering visitors an unique experience," she explains. "Industry players who have bright ideas to offer can delight and surprise visitors."

The new programme has a local focus and hands-on approach, Dr Narwani says. "We will challenge our students to solve problems and deal with real-life scenarios through role-play exercises, case studies and projects." She adds that mainland China and India will become major players in the future development of global tourism and that it is important for students to pay extra attention to these booming economies and to learn to design products for these culturally-different markets.

Apart from English and Mandarin language courses, the programme will also offer training in information technology, marketing and attractions management. Students will be required to complete a total of 12 modules in 18 to 36 months.

To meet industry developments and to cater for different industry needs, HKU SPACE also offers a range of other advanced diploma programmes, including hospitality, tourism management and event management. Once students have successfully completed a programme, they may opt for top-up programmes leading to bachelor's degrees in tourism or hospitality management.

Applicants should have passed Form Seven or have a minimum of three years' relevant work experience. Form Five graduates may apply for certificate programmes before progressing to diploma programmes.

Taken from Career Times 26 September 2008, p. A14
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