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ITE College West Tourism Student Seminar 2013

 On 29 January 2013, ITE College West hosted its first-ever Tourism Student Seminar with the theme “Moving Ahead: Singapore’s Tourism Industry In The Next Decade”. The event was created to enable students to correlate what they learnt in their lessons with what goes on in the real world. In addition, the seminar sought to address the industry’s challenge of retaining and attracting good talent by strongly encouraging students to invest in long-term careers and not switch industries. It also provided a platform for students to network with potential employers and gain footholds in the industry.

Featuring well-known and long-time practitioners within the tourism industry such as Ms Lilian Kuan, Assistant Director of Sector Capability Development of STB; Mr Robert Khoo, Group CEO of NATAS; Mr Oh Kah Wee, Deputy Training Director of Singapore Aviation Academy and Mr Chiang Zhan Xiang of the Association of Singapore Attractions Exco, the seminar saw hundreds of ITE students in the tourism field gathering to learn from the professionals. Students received a more well-rounded view of the industry as the speakers shared their insights and provided some perspective on what to expect from a career in the tourism sector.

There was also a panel discussion session, featuring all the speakers as well as Mr Patrick Ghielmetti, Vice President, HR Asia Pacific of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Mr Ang Eu Khoon, Managing Director of Sans Tour, which was extremely well-received. Many students took up the microphone to direct their questions at the panellists. As one of the themes of the panel session was on how technology can and has helped the tourism industry, the panellists spoke on the benefits of technology.

Mr Patrick opined that social media is a form of technology that the tourism industry “cannot afford to ignore”, with Mr Khoo adding: “Technology helps us share information, and those who don’t embrace technology in reaching out to your customers will inevitably fall out of the industry.” When asked if technological developments would result in reduced personal touch and interaction, Mr Ghietmetti offered his perspective from the hospitality sector, saying: “In today’s world, it’s all about instant connectivity. I think technology is there to create experiences. It’s about customising your experiences to create that personal touch, and technology in hospitality remains all about the human touch as long as you understand your customer.”

As the session drew to a close, the question that had been on all the students’ minds was asked: “What age and academic qualifications do you need to join the industry?” Mr Ghielmetti’s response assuaged their concerns and was greeted with the loud applause of all the students present. “Passion is the key factor – age and academic qualifications are helpful, but not compulsory.”





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