Students win trip to Dubai conference to discuss travel talent pipeline

Travel and tourism students from Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMet) are urging others to enter an international competition after they won a trip to Dubai in last year’s contest.

Evie Rimmer-McLoughlin and Isabella Ranwell Zanchettin travelled to Dubai late last year, along with their lecturer John Garside – Level 3 travel and tourism course leader – because their college group was the UK winner of the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership international research competition.

The 2023 theme was ‘Building A Resilient Workforce for a Sustainable Future’, so the group of 12 second-year students worked together on their project for the competition. First-year students also became involved, completing surveys and making videos.

Their case study looked at ways to boost student numbers, such as hosting a ‘travelicious’ food-tasting event at college, mentoring schemes, and engagement with others in their community and the travel trade, such as Midcounties Co-op Travel.

The students also highlighted how they have raised issues about Level 3 travel and tourism courses in Travel Weekly, and lobbied local MP Andrew Mitchell and Birmingham mayor Andy Street.

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Garside said he became aware of the competition via Claire Steiner, who is the UK director for GTTP.

“I was stunned when I found out that we were the winners and absolutely delighted,” he commented.

“It was one of the proudest moments of my career and a reflection of what a fantastic year group of students they are.

“When I received the notification from the organisers, I just put the email on a power point slide and waited for them to read it.”

He said the project was a great learning experience for the students, who can showcase it in their CV and Ucas applications.

The students in the group decided Evie and Izzy would be the ones to accompany Garside on the trip and represent their class.

Izzy said she was “very nervous” but also “very excited” and loved the experience.

Evie agreed, saying: “It was a very nerve-wracking experience as I had never presented something to so many different people.

“It was also a very rewarding feeling, knowing that so many people from around the world wanted to listen to what we had to say.”

John Garside with Evie (centre) and Izzy at the Dubai Frame observatory.

The Holiday Inn, Dubai Festival City, hosted the 50-plus attendees from 15 countries at the conference, and there was a gala dinner on the final evening at the Marriott Hotel, Al Jadaf.

As well as making their presentation and taking part in a careers afternoon, the BMet group were also able to go sightseeing at the Dubai Frame, Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and Atlantis.

Evie said it was one of the “most rewarding and life-changing experiences”, adding: “I would 100% recommend future travel and tourism students to enter for 2024.”

Izzy commented: “It was very valuable and gave us a great work opportunity; a feel for the work in the industry.”

Garside said he will encourage the next group of second-year students to enter the 2024 project which will launch soon.

The college currently has 92 students studying aviation, and travel and tourism, courses, a rise of 38% year-on-year, thanks to “hard work” to woo prospective students and parents.

The college was also recently rated “good” following an Ofsted inspection.

Furthermore, Garside is encouraging colleagues in the travel sector to have their say in the Abta survey about the future of Level 3 courses.

“The Abta survey is a key opportunity for industry to contribute to the content and design of the new Level 3 Travel & Tourism qualifications,” he said.

“I am encouraging all contacts to participate as we look to develop and build the future programme; this could be a pivotal moment for true industry involvement.

“Students have many course and career choices at 16 and we want them to see the appeal of travel and tourism – and that is the industry in which they want to pursue a career.”

Main picture, from left: Claire Steiner, GTTP, with Evie Rimmer-Mcloughlin, Isabella Ranwell Zanchettin and John Garside of BMet, at the GTTP’s Student Travel Research conference in Dubai.

Second-year travel & tourism students in the BMet ‘aircraft cabin’

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