THE hospitality and tourism industry is facing challenging times. What with fears of war, terrorism and deadly disease deterring travel, one wonders: does it makes sense to study hospitality management or enter the hotel line?
A 20-year veteran in the industry says that people should not be pessimistic but instead “get on with life” and pursue the courses that interest them.
“The demand for services will still be there and in fact by 2020, it is estimated that there will be 1.6 billion tourists travelling all over the world,” says Magdy Attalla, president of College Suisse, a Swiss school of hospitality management, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently.
According to the 43-year-old Swiss-Egyptian national, the hospitality industry (which includes hotels, airlines, tours and cruises) will be the fastest growing industry with investments reaching US$1.7 trillion (RM6.46 trillion).
“It is currently the biggest employer with 348 million employees or one in every seven workers being involved in hospitality,” he adds.
Attalla nevertheless concedes that salaries in the hospitality industry may be nothing to shout about. The reason for this, he explains, is that hospitality, unlike manufacturing, is not a cost-efficient industry.
“Hospitality relies heavily on the human touch,” he says. “For example, a hotel would need 20 people to get the same X-amount of profits as a factory which needs only five people to man some machinery. Although automation would be cheaper, I cannot foresee having robot waiters. People still want people to provide service!
“But of course hospitality offers numerous perks which cannot be quantified, such as being able to travel widely if you are in the airlines industry, and enjoying good food and hotel stays if you are in the hotel industry.”
On why one should choose to study in Switzerland, Attalla says that the country had a tradition of establishing and managing famous hotels and that a Swiss qualification represents the highest standard in the world.
“Students with a Swiss qualification would be snapped up anywhere in the world upon graduation,” he says.
College Suisse which is situated in the picturesque town of Einsiedeln, just outside Zurich, offers a variety of hospitality programmes (taught in English), ranging from a five-month Certificate Course in Food and Beverage to an MBA in Hospitality Management.
“Under the MBA programme, students will be exposed to the latest trends – such as eco-tourism or sustainable tourism, and strategic aviation management – where they will learn how to manage the airline business in order to compete efficiently,” says Attalla.
The campus is in a hotel managed by the college – Hotel Katharinahof – and students will be serving hotel guests as part of the course requirements. The good news is that they will be paid at the same time.
“By the time you finish your course, you would have earned half your course fees,” says Attalla, who hopes to recruit 120 students from various countries for the July intake.
“We hope the cultural exchange and engagement in a multicultural community will help students work and communicate with people of other origins.”
On who should pursue hospitality studies, Attalla says one must have a genuine liking for people to begin with.
“It is wonderful when we can make a frowning guest become a smiling guest,” he enthuses, adding that students should also pick up German as Germans are the world's most travelled people.
“German tourists love it when they come to a strange place and someone in the hotel speaks German to them,” he says.
At College Suisse, German is part of the syllabus and students will have ample opportunity to practise all that they learn.
For further information, contact the college's representative Zurina Anuar at Barefoot, AB-Artho & Associates at 03-2039 8539 or 012-6678163, or log on to www.collegesuisse.ch