Future travel industry leaders shine at GTTP event in France


By Elizabeth Aston, Advisor, Industry Affairs, Amadeus IT Group (pictured)

Reprinted from the  Amadeus blog with permission from Amadeus.

The future of the travel industry is in good hands if the recent Global Travel & Tourism Partnership (GTTP) conference held at the Amadeus research and development centre in Sophia Antipolis  last month is an indicator of times to come.

Student teams from hundreds of schools competed to represent their countries at the conference, but only 22 students from 11 GTTP member countries were selected to present their research findings on ‘Sustainable Adventure Tourism’. The up and coming travel industry leaders were tasked with investigating whether adventure tourism has a strong attraction for visitors to their country, and what further sustainability actions should be adopted by the market, using local travel industry role models as case studies.

The students presented topics across a broad spectrum of sustainable adventure activities ranging from high tech outdoor activities in Hungary, to paragliding in Jamaica, to tropical rain forest bio-diversity activities in Kenya and to the Russian project “accessible cycling tours” based on real student needs at their college on the Volga River.

Students from Brazil (pictured above) presented an especially interesting project focused on the award winning Park of Dreams, which not only ticks the three pillars of sustainability, but goes beyond to include accessibility as a key differentiator. All the facilities, rooms, and adventure activities are fully adapted for accessibility, including the zip line and white-water rafting. Not only is all their food organic and grown on site with a full organic waste programme (including a worm farm!), they even recycle old materials for art on the walls and reuse old objects for new purposes e.g. an old door becomes a table!

As in previous years the high level of English language competency, the extensive research conducted, the presentation and animation skills and general humour of the students did not fail to impress.

The students always present each other with gifts from their home country and there was a very touching moment when one of the students from China presented all the attendees with hand-painted silk fans painted by her father, who is an artist.

For many of these students it was their first time travelling outside of their home country, but judging by the high quality of their work, their confidence and ambition, it certainly will not be the last time. With such clarity and vision we should feel comfortable that the future of travel is in good hands indeed.

The GTTP educates secondary and vocational school students about careers in travel and tourism in more than 5,600 schools around the world. As a GTTP Global Partner, Amadeus hosted the conference. Starwood Hotels & Resorts, another GTTP Global Partner, provided meals and hotel rooms at Le Méridien, Nice, while Delta Airlines donated air travel tickets for the students and teachers.

GTTP Alumna Profile: Sumey Cabello Le Roux from South Africa

Sumey Cabello Le Roux was a South African Winner of the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership Research Award in 2002 while a student at Duineveld High School in Upington in the Northern Cape Province.  She and her fellow South African winner Leandra Brand presented their research on the Nama people, a vanishing culture, at the GTTP’s annual student/teacher conference, which was held in Nice, France that year.

Sumey, who is now 30, tells us how she went from high school to a senior hotel management job in 12 years via 53 countries.

After graduating from Duineveld High School in 2003, I completed a 2 and a half year international diploma in Hospitality Studies at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch not far from Cape Town. As part of my practical work experience, I was placed at Reuben’s Restaurant in Franschhoek for 3 months. After completing my studies I was offered a full time job at Reuben’s as Restaurant Manager. I worked at there for almost 2 years and learnt so much about the hospitality industry.

However, I always wanted to travel and see the world. I hoped to get an opportunity to work on cruise ships and applied through an agency. I was very fortunate to be hired by one of the most well-known luxury cruise companies, Crystal Cruises. They are a 6-star cruise company with only 2 ships. I was assigned to Crystal Serenity. I started my first contract as a server and was gradually promoted to a Petty Officer.

I traveled the globe (53 countries in total) for almost 6 years and had the time of my life. We sailed a 120 day world cruise every year, spent the summer in the Mediterranean and finished off the year in the Caribbean. Waking up in Italy today, tomorrow in the Greek Islands, the day there after in Spain… what better way to travel the world, experience different cultures and work in a 6-star environment?

Sumey receives the “Employee of the Month” award on board Crystal Cruises in 2011


I returned to South Africa in 2012 after having spent 6 years cruising the world. I began working for a hotel and restaurant group in Cape Town which caters for international clientele. I started as a manager, was promoted to general manager and then area manager within 3 years.

Looking back, I can confirm that the GTTP had a strong influence on my career choice. After our trip to France in 2002 for the student/teacher conference, I knew I wanted to travel and to see the world, meet great people and learn about different cultures. The GTTP encouraged and motivated young people like myself to pursue careers in tourism and to strive for bigger and better opportunities. The exposure in France made me realise our country of South Africa has so much to offer and we need to expose that to the world. It made me proud to be a South African and I wanted to help preserve our heritage and make others take pride in our beautiful country.

Since the GTTP, my life changed completely. I was more focused on my future career and how to achieve my goals. We met wonderful people in France – friends for life. Everything was so professionally organised and to represent South Africa on an international platform made me very proud of my country. It also made me realise that all of us have a role to play in promoting tourism in our respective countries.

I made many friends at the 2002 GTTP conference and when I visited Ireland, I met up with one of them. We had coffee and it was great to share good memories. We have both traveled extensively so we could share all our favorite places in the world.

Passion can take you very far, if you can dream it you can achieve it. Never give up on your dreams.

Our industry is very demanding and you have to be very dedicated. Work hard at school – the rewards are endless.

In this industry you can meet interesting people, experience amazing cultures and history, visit wonderful countries. A career in the tourism and hospitality industry is hard work but is at the same time very rewarding!!!

When I returned to South Africa in 2012, I married the love of my life. My husband Manuel is from Chile and we decided to settle in the beautiful city of Cape Town in South Africa. We are both working in the hospitality industry. Manuel is a wine director and sommelier for one of South Africa’s most luxurious boutique hotels.

In October 2014 we became the proud parents of Myla Carmen, our beautiful daughter, now just over a year old. She is the biggest blessing and motherhood is very special. I took some time off to spend with our daughter and am looking forward to be back in the industry very soon.

Ten Years On: Profile of Maria Bykova,
GTTP alumna from Russia

Maria Bykova is 25 with a job that is a little like a car: lots of moving parts.  Her role is “Sales Manager, Groups & Events” for the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski, a Five Star hotel in the center of Moscow. The establishment is part of the Kempinski group, which owns or manages 75 luxury hotels, mostly in Europe and Asia.

Maria deals with companies planning to hold events at the hotel, such as all-day conferences, board meetings, breakfast meetings, training sessions, awards ceremonies, cocktail parties, or team building. Clients come from all over the world and naturally have high standards given the hotel’s 5-star rating.

“When planning an event, clients will visit us for a site inspection. I show them the hotel and describe our advantages in comparison to other hotels,” explained Maria.

“After their visit, I send our offer via email with all the information. Then I call the client to check if our offer is received and if there are any questions.

“If everything is confirmed, I discuss all the details with the client, such as the set-up, timing, and menus.

“A week prior to the event I send a function sheet to all involved departments. Then a day in advance I pass all the information to the banquet department and they are in charge of the client on the day of the event.

“ When the event is over, we close it with the accounting department and invite the client for feedback. If there are any issues, we want to know about them in order to prevent similar things in future and to maintain a high level of luxury service.”

Clear, comprehensive, and accurate communications is vital to Maria’s work, and indeed practically any job in the tourism industry.  That is why the GTTP emphasizes activities that require practicing communications skills, such as the Student Research Competition.

It was representing Russia in the Research Competition Student/Teacher Conference near Frankfurt, Germany, in 2005, that led Maria to the hotel industry.

Attending the Conference was a turning point in her life.

“At that time I was thinking about a career in IT, but after the conference I realized I would rather work with people and that my knowledge of English and computers could be very helpful,” said Maria.

“The students’ Case Studies and the presentations were amazing. Everybody did their best presenting their countries and explaining what they could do to develop tourism which is very important for us all because it really brings people together. We experienced it first hand at the conference. There were students from different countries and it was exciting to learn about different cultures from peers – not from books or films,” she added.

After she graduated from high school, Maria attended the Plekhanov Russian Economics University in Moscow, one of the top five business schools in the country. Here she earned a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

Along the way she had summer jobs for five years working for the Gulfstream Club, an operator of tours. She also spent a few months working in the visa application center that handles requests for visas by Russians travelling to Sweden and Norway before joining Baltschug Kempinski in January 2013. Her job was Sales Coordinator, specializing in groups and events.

By the end of the year she had been promoted to Sales Executive in the same group.  Twelve months later, in December 2014, she was promoted to her present job.

What are her career objectives?

“My short term objectives are personal growth and developing my working skills.  Longer term I would like to have a higher management position so I can influence how the hotel industry evolves to meet new customer needs,” Maria said.

What advice would she give to people thinking about pursuing a career in Tourism/Hospitality?

“All I can say is that it is the most exciting career and it will always be in demand as more and more people are travelling now,” said Maria.  “You will never feel bored because you meet a lot of new people while working.”

“To do your job well you have to study hard at a college or university,” she added, “and you must be careful about every little detail when dealing with people so as not to offend them by doing something which is absolutely appropriate in your country but can be quite the opposite in another one.”

“You must develop cultural awareness to be a success,” said Maria.




The Road to Bordeaux: GTTP Alumna Profile of
Katie Nga Man Chong

Katie Chong in front of Chateau Margaux as part of her annual visit to Bordeaux as a wine importer to Hong Kong and mainland China

Interview with Katie Chong, a 2002 winner of the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership’s annual student research competition, representing Hong Kong. 

Each year Katie Chong flies from Hong Kong to the Bordeaux region of France as a procurement (purchasing) manager for Jointek Fine Wines Limited, a key wine trading company in Asia.  Her mission: help choose which of the new vintages of some of the most celebrated, serious names in the world of wine would most appeal to her company’s industry clients in Hong Kong and mainland China.

The vineyards Katie visits sound as if they should be set to classical music: Chateau Lafitte-Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour, Chateau d’Yquem, and so on.

Her job includes conducting an initial evaluation of the wines. “Afterward, our management team gets together for tasting and analysis,” said Katie. This is serious business with a lot of money at stake, not to mention her company’s reputation.  But fun, too.  “What could be better than enjoying fabulous wines and/or good food during the business meetings?” she asks.

The road to the job that now takes Katie to Bordeaux each year started 12 years ago. She was 16.  The path she took emphasized hard work; extended exposure to very different cultures; learning communications skills; exploring the world of work, and the Travel and Tourism Industry, first with the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP) and then in academia.

Katie participated in the GTTP Program in her high school*. She and a fellow student Yen Li won a place to represent Hong Kong at the international GTTP competition in 2002. This took her to the annual student/teacher conference in Nice, the town in France that is one of the birthplaces of European tourism. Fellow competition winners from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa also were there.

“The GTTP competition was the first time I was in touch with students around the world, and it opened my eyes to all those other cultures. I believe that was the start of my interest in travel,” Katie explained.

Thirteen years on: At the 2015 Alumni Gathering for Hong Kong and Greater China, Katie (on the right) meets up with fellow former GTTP students as well as Dr Nancy Needham, Executive Director (4th from right) and secondary Tourism and Hospitality teacher Crishner Lam of Hong Kong (4th from left)

Katie’s next stop on the road to Bordeaux was Carbondale, Kansas, a three-hour drive from the geographical center of the United States and a long way from home. Katie was an Exchange Student for the 2003-2004 school year.

After Kansas, Suzhou, more than 11,000 air km (7,000 miles) away in Eastern China, awaited her. There she attended the China campus of Australia’s Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School.  After graduating, Katie worked in a Shanghai hotel for a year and a half in food and beverage and the front desk, putting to work what she had studied.

Then it was time to go back home. Back in Hong Kong she made a 3 1/2 year detour into banking, working full time for a bank while also studying to earn her Bachelor of Business Studies from the National University of Ireland. She was a top student. But banking was not for her.  The Travel & Tourism was.

“This industry is full of challenges and competition,” said Katie.

Now she works for Jointek, a wine importer that supplies hotels, restaurants, private clubs, nightclubs, supermarkets and retail stores. The company also operates about 100 of its own wine stores in major Chinese cities.

“I started work there in July 2010 as the personal assistant of the vice president responsible for procurement and sales,” said Katie.  As a personal assistant Katie’s abilities and work ethic were demonstrated to her boss on a daily basis. That visibility helped her get promoted, explained Katie.

Traveling to France is just one part of her job. She is also involved in working on the company’s monthly special offers, new product launches, wine dinners and wine tastings and other promotional activities.

“I enjoy the people I meet from different cultures. The most important thing is that I love to share – share the experience, the food I like, the wines I tasted,” said Katie.  She is focused on learning all aspects of her business, and her employer encourages her.

It is difficult to underestimate the influence that the GTTP has had on Katie’s life.  “After the GTTP’s student/teacher conference in France, I found myself become more outgoing, more willing to take on challenges. Seemingly impossible things, like being selected for the GTTP Conference, can be possible.”

What advice will you give people who want to pursue a career in the industry, Katie was asked.

“Try it before judging. It may not be easy but you will have so much fun in it!”

* To see the teenage student work that led to Katie’s career, click on “GTTP Research Competition and Award,” then click on Archives, then scroll down to 2002-Hong Kong. The research presentation is about Hong Kong’s “Walled Villages,” part of the country’s rich cultural heritage. Katie was a student of the Lok Sin Tong Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School.

GTTP Interview with Kingston College student Annabelle Lynch on her Hertz work placement

By Martin O’Brien
Former Programme Leader – Service Industries Kingston College*

Owing to our continued and supportive connection with the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership, Kingston College and Hertz Car Rental have been able to offer fantastic work placement opportunities to seven of the College’s students earlier this year.

Students worked in different departments of the Hertz car rental operations at London Heathrow Airport, with the support of staff members, and the feedback has been very positive. Kingston College asked Annabelle Lynch (Level 2 Travel & Tourism) what she thought of the placement and we were thrilled with her responses:

Annabelle serving at Hertz London Heathrow Instant Return

What did you think of the placement?

“It was a really good placement with friendly people. The support from the staff members was excellent with constant guidance that helped me in the week.”

What has the placement taught you?

“The main things that I have learnt relate to customer service and the importance of where a business is located. Throughout the week my confidence also grew.”

Annabelle works with the team at Hertz Instant Return to inspect rental cars on their return.

Would you recommend this placement to other students?

“Absolutely. I really enjoyed it, especially working in the returns department checking the cars that came back in.”

Anything else?

“I would like to say thank you to Hertz for hosting me in this placement, it was a great experience and I would love to have the opportunity to work there in the future”

Students have been given the opportunity to work in a number of different departments and have an insight into how a real travel and tourism business operates. Our students now have a greater understanding of how customer service can affect a business and the importance of establishing relationships with customers.

Kingston College would once again like to thank Hertz and the GTTP for their continued support and dedication. It is opportunities like this that enrich the journey of a student and helps make them more employable when they leave education.

* About Kingston College

Based in South West London, UK, Kingston College is a major provider of further education for post-secondary students. Its Service Department offers Level 1-3 travel and tourism courses aimed at students aged 16-19. The goal of the college’s work experience program is to expose students to a travel and tourism related working environment and to work as part of a professional team.

Kingston College has been affiliated with the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership for several years, and two of its students represented the UK at the 2012 GTTP Student/Teacher Conference in Monaco. The College works closely with the GTTP UK Director Claire Steiner to maintain their industry knowledge and relevance for the students.

Extending our Responsible Business reach through Education – GTTP Interview with Françoise Grumberg, Carlson Wagonlit Travel

Françoise Grumberg, CWT

GTTP Board Member Françoise Grumberg, Vice President Global Responsible Business, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, explains the rewards of working with the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership.

Why is Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) involved with the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership?

We have a saying at our company: we operate with one foot in today, and one foot in tomorrow. We believe in being a responsible business, including seeking out ways to help the next generation expand their professional horizons and develop their career mobility by engaging in activities that focus on education and entrepreneurship.

Knowing that, we believe Carlson Wagonlit Travel has found a great partner in the GTTP.  The reason we joined the partnership is simple. We all have strong faith in the potential of young people. We consider it our duty to provide the skills they need. Together we can raise the interest and aspirations of the youth, especially in places where travel and tourism are vital to the economy.

How is CWT contributing to the GTTP?

We are contributing through funding parts of various initiatives. These include the development of an online learning management system, the creation and promotion of a LinkedIn group for GTTP alumni, and a new module in the Passport to the World Curriculum – Responsible and Sustainable Tourism – which CWT presented and is supported by the GTTP board, currently under development.

The objectives of the Responsible and Sustainable Tourism module are to provide students with a foundation for understanding green, sustainable tourism, as well as providing them with best practice examples and case studies. We hope to attract students not only to a profession in the travel industry, but also to make them aware of the importance of responsible business in our sector, right from the beginning of their careers.

What value does GTTP bring to the industry from your point of view?

The GTTP took a really smart approach to get young people interested in travel and tourism as a career. The program was developed with business partners. It makes students aware of our global industry, but also connects how travel and tourism make a difference locally. It also develops valuable skills that can easily translate into careers in other related industries.

GTTP offers a channel for young people to better equip themselves as they aspire to find or create opportunities to improve their and their families’ lives. In addition, GTTP provides a forum for organizations to get together and share good practices while working together towards a common good.

Do you have a fond GTTP moment that you’d like to share?

It’s wonderful to hear student’s stories – learning about how GTTP opened doors for them to learn more about the travel and tourism industry and professional opportunities that they can have. One of my favorite memories is watching some of those same students get recognized in GTTP board events for projects they had created during their GTTP curriculum. Seeing their proud, happy faces as they receive the recognition is truly priceless.

What’s next for CWT regarding the GTTP?

We’re excited to have the opportunity to create even more awareness, and look forward to sharing some of the insights and experiences that come from our work with GTTP in the coming months.

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