The most recent THE-ICE webinar brought together more than 40 experts from 13 leading tourism, hospitality, events, and culinary arts (TH&E) educational institutions of THE-ICE member network in 9 countries to explore the potential impacts of COVID-19 on the future of TH&E industries and higher education.
On Thursday, 21st May 2020 THE-ICE hosted their seventh COVID-19 webinar, with attendees hearing from Mr Tony Gothard (Luxury Escapes, Australia), Mr Steve Hood (STR SHARE Center, USA), and Dr Craig Thompson (THE-ICE, Scotland). From the panellist perspectives and open discussion, four areas of focus emerged:
- Changing travel intentions and expectations
- The post-pandemic future of travel, tourism, and hospitality
- Preparing TH&E graduates for a post-pandemic future
- The long-term impact of COVID-19 on TH&E education
Within these areas, the following key takeaways were highlighted:
Changing travel intentions and expectations
- There will be a shift towards domestic travel during recovery, especially with most borders closed, and a trend is emerging towards dispersed boutique travel.
- The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent stoppage of international and domestic travel has been significant industry-wide. Tourism and hospitality industries anticipate further financial stress when government support programs conclude.
The post-pandemic future of travel, tourism, and hospitality
- Health and safety will be a new priority for travellers post-pandemic, and innovative cost management will be needed at all levels to balance the costs of implementing and maintaining increased health and safety measures.
- Understanding data is key to minimising risk, and crisis management training will become more important as the industry recovers. Current occupancy data for hotels globally is complicated by the billeting of health workers, travellers in quarantine, and others, emphasising that it is essential to fully understand and correctly interpret the data.
Preparing TH&E graduates for a post-pandemic future
- Curriculum changes should be made rapidly to meet student and industry needs in newly important matters like sanitation, alternative leisure, crisis management, etc., but it remains to be seen whether education institutions will be expected to teach this, or whether industry will develop training specific to their needs.
- It is important to collect and utilise data from students about how they are feeling, as well as how they are performing, with online delivery and assessment.
- Institutions need to deliver practical courses and coordinate internships online for tourism, hospitality, events, and culinary arts students. Changing industry needs and regulations will make it harder for businesses to take on interns in the foreseeable future, but institutions should focus on deepening their relationships with industry during this time and finding collaborative solutions where possible.
The long-term impact of COVID-19 on TH&E education
- The move towards online delivery and blended learning has potential to increase inequality, depending on student and institutional access to reliable digital infrastructure.
- Greater availability of online courses is anticipated to intensify competition between institutions, and may also raise demand for flexible study, collaborative programmes, and micro-credentials.
- Economic recession usually results in increased higher education enrolments, and it is likely that more students may continue into postgraduate studies rather than graduate into a difficult economy and job market. However, this growth in domestic enrolments will not offset the dramatic short-term loss of international students and may create financial pressures that will impact institutions’ viability.
The recording of the webinar can be accessed here.