Despite the devastation caused by Covid-19 on the Middle East’s travel industry, hospitality and tourism education in the region has remained resilient, with programs in several countries reporting strong enrollments.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, an industry group based in London, the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns it prompted could wipe out around 200 million tourism jobs worldwide and cut global GDP by more than $5.5 trillion.
Many students, however, are opting to remain enrolled in hospitality programs. Some appear confident that by the time they graduate, the industry will be getting back on its feet, with job opportunities returning while they are busy studying. Others seem less enthusiastic but still see the industry as one of their better prospects for employment.
Christopher Dutt, a senior lecturer at the Emirates Academy for Hospitality Management, in Dubai, says that “in the short-term, some students will be more cautious about enrolling in any form of education until the situation is calmer and more predictable.” But other, mostly older students, he adds, are viewing further education as a means to update their knowledge and skills, especially during times of slow business.
At Middlesex University Dubai, there has been no visible decline in enrollments, according to Cody Paris, deputy director for academic planning and research. “The tourism industry is resilient and likely will recover to pre-pandemic levels in many destinations within a couple of years,” Paris says. Hospitality programs, therefore, remain “an attractive option for many students,” he says.
Adapting to Online Learning
At both of those institutions and others across the region, pedagogy has had to adapt.
Dutt says the Emirates Academy for Hospitality Management has adopted a more blended format. It would be difficult to put hospitality education entirely online, he says. “Blended learning offers a suitable middle ground that provides the flexibility of online courses and the interactive, hands-on experience of face-to-face learning.”