On 16th June twenty-five tourism lecturers both from HE and FE enjoyed a seminar arranged by ABTA and Andreas Walmsley at ICRT. The purpose of the event was to inform representatives from UK higher education institutions of ABTA’s activities, thereby facilitating closer links with industry. With continued emphasis in HE on employment and the industry relevance of HE programmes ABTA’s efforts in engaging with HE are very welcome.
The seminar covered much ground including the latest data on consumer trends in tourism as well as an overview of resources ABTA makes available for HE staff. A range of speakers from ABTA presented on the day, including a speech by Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s Chief Executive, and John de Vial, ABTA’s Head of Financial Protection. Emphasis was also placed on sustainability with a presentation by Nikki White, Head of Destinations and Sustainability explaining what ABTA is doing to make the industry more responsible. The ABTA consumer survey also covered ground in this area, identifying consumer attitudes towards aviation, taxation and sustainability, for example, as well as the role of the industry in sustainable destination development. A few highlights of the survey in terms of consumers’ views of sustainability include:
- 33% of consumers believe they have a good understanding of what is meant by sustainable tourism
- 22% of consumers said they would actively seek a company with a good track record in sustainability
- 41% of respondents said they did not want to think about being green when on holiday
There was some agreement (50%) that flying and being green poses a significant dilemma.
- 17% of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly holiday, 31% disagreed.
- Interestingly, consumers from lower socio-economic groups were more inclined to pay for a more responsible holiday than those higher up on the socio-economic scale.
- Overall the data indicate that consumers expect industry to be doing something for the local population in the tourism destinations. Consumers appear to be pointing the finger of responsibility at industry rather than considering their own behaviour.
- Consumers were largely against the idea of increasing taxation as a means to curb demand for flying (14% agreed with an increase in taxation for this purpose).
The event was not solely about one-way communication healthy discussions also took place along a range of themes. Collaboration between HE and ABTA was identified in the following areas:
- Publication and/or reference of industry relevant research being undertaken at universities on ABTA’s website
- Attendance of an ABTA representative at ATHE’s annual conference
- ABTA’s provision of case studies, in particular on sustainable tourism for use in HE
- Identification of case studies of career paths in tourism, i.e. where tourism graduates have developed careers in tourism. Collaboration with People First was acknowledged.
- Co-ordination of supply and demand for industry placements.
Delegates were keen for future events such as these to take place and suggested that ABTA members might also be invited to present. ABTA should be praised for taking the initiative for this event. HE-Industry collaboration has long been on the cards and yet it is only through events like these that this becomes more than just a good idea.