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Travel firms turn grooming grounds

July 08, 2005 11:17 IST

Travel companies such as Kuoni India and Kesari Tours have started professional courses on customer care and services, personal grooming, passenger management and emergency management in airline and travel industry. Other leading travel companies are also expected to follow suit soon.

This is for the first time that the travel and tour companies have taken the lead to train personnel. The demand for trained staff is rising because of the boom in the travel industry. Only 30 per cent of people involved in the industry are skilled.

The country recorded a 3.5 million tourist inflow last year -- a growth of 15 per cent over the previous year. Last year, 100,000 jobs were generated in the industry, of which only about 5,000 could be trained, said Kamal Hingorani, vice-president and head, Kuoni Academy of Travel (KAT), a 100 per cent subsidiary of Kuoni Travel India.

To cash in on this huge demand for service professionals, Kesari Tours has joined hands with Hospitality Training Institute, a private institute, to provide one-year diploma in travel and tourism management.

The course guarantees a six-month paid internship at Kesari. The eligibility for the course is HSC with conversational skills in English.

Though the institute will start in Mumbai, it has plans to spread its branches to other metros later. Kuoni has recently come up with courses on computer reservation, customer service, airport management, airline administration and cabin crew.

These are certificate courses with six months to one year duration. The fees for the courses range between Rs 9,000 and Rs 50,000.

"Tourism has become more a knowledge-based industry, thanks to the importance of innovativeness in tourism product development and marketing. The sector is poised for massive growth with new career opportunities. We need quality personnel, which we are tremendously lacking," said Veena Patil, director, Kesari Tours.

"About eight million new jobs would be generated in the travel & tourism industry over the next few years. There is a huge scope for quality training institutes in the country," said Hingorani.

Over the next two years, about 200 new aircraft would be added to the existing fleet and hence the number of airport staff required would grow manifold, he said.

Currently courses on travel and tourism are provided by reputed institutes such as Delhi-based Skyline Business Management, government-promoted Indian Institute of Travel & Tourism Management and Garware Institute.

Besides, there are scores of small institutes offering tourism courses.

The Vision Paper for 2020 prepared by the Confederation of Indian Industry envisages employment of 50 million persons in travel and tourism industry and an increase in the share of this industry to 7 per cent of GDP.

World Travel and Tourism Council's projects India's travel and tourism industry to grow at a CAGR of 9.3 per cent up to 2012 with corresponding employment growth expected at 3 per cent, much above the expected growth in South East Asia and the world aggregate level.

The World Trade Organisation projects an annual average growth rate of 6.2 per cent in South Asia over a larger timeframe till 2020.
Prabodh Chandrasekhar in Mumbai