In Pursuit of My Dream, by Margaret Cheung, a GTTP Student Research Winner in 2011

Margaret Cheung, of Hong Kong, was a research award winner of the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership while a student in 2011 at Lok Sin Tong Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School*. She is now studying at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management, a highly competitive program. In this guest blog, Margaret recounts her experiences since participating in GTTP activities, and how the program (plus plenty of hard work) has led to her success today, while helping to shape her ambitions for working in the travel and tourism industry. Also click on her photo below to learn more.

My GTTP story starts in 2011 – the year my GTTP studies opened an amazing door into the Travel and Tourism Industry.  Back then I was taking Tourism and Hospitality Studies as an elective course at my secondary school, part of the international GTTP program, to gain experience in the hospitality industry. That year GTTP made “Festival Tourism” the subject of its Student Case Writing Competition.

Festivals are a huge part of our lives in Hong Kong.   My classmate Kimberly Cheung and I live in the Sha Tin District, where a famous festival called the “Che Kung Dan” is held in the Che Kung Temple.  We chose Che Kung Dan as our topic as we not only wanted to promote our local and traditional festival and customs to foreigners, but also we love telling people about all aspects of our community.

I was thrilled to be chosen as part of the winning team from Hong Kong to go to the annual Student/Teacher Conference in Monaco to present our study to other GTTP country winners, their teachers, and executives from GTTP’s “Global Partners.”

All this was amazing for an ordinary secondary student — to travel overseas and communicate with hospitality professionals and make friends with foreign students. It built up the connection between the industry and me and motivated me to make my goal a career in hospitality.

After coming back to Hong Kong from Monaco, my team was invited to present our ideas to a GTTP China meeting in HK and join a GTTP Hong Kong alumni lunch meeting. It showed that the GTTP’s competitions are not transitory events, but lifelong activities with a positive impact on participants.

After the conference, I set out to enrich my industry experience with various activities.  For example, I entered the Hong Kong Young Ambassador Scheme. This is sponsored by the Hong Kong Tourism Board to provide support services for tourism events and attractions. I worked part-time in the Hong Kong Ocean Park and in the Hotel Icon’s Banquet Department.

The examiners recognized extra-curricular activities and work experience when I took the Hong Kong public examinations. I was very pleased the results, especially with the top marks I received in Travel and Hospitality Studies  — a “5*” or “Starred Five.”

As I am a Year 1 student, I have many dreams and targets on my to-do-list, such as being an exchange student; joining an overseas internship programme, and working in different hospitality industry companies.

After graduating from university, I hope to work in airlines or in a food and beverage department.

I am now on course:  study, work hard, and fight for my dream.

*Margaret studied Tourism and Hospitality at Lok Sin Tong Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School

Kyangala Girls’ GTTP Club in Kenya engages in planting and studying the environment

In Kenya,  56 public secondary schools across 47 counties run the GTTP program as a Tourism Club, with over 800 students participating in total. The GTTP’s Passport to the World curriculum to introduce students to the travel and tourism industry is fully endorsed by Kenya’s Ministries of Education and Tourism. 

Mr. Nzioka, GTTP Club Patron at the Kyangala Girls’ school in Kenya’s Eastern Province, shares his thoughts on the program:

As the local chairperson of the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership Club at the Kyangala Girls’ secondary school, I would first like to thank the organization for the support they have shown us. The GTTP is helping some of the students to nurture their talents and interest in travel and tourism.

The GTTP program started in our school mid last year. The program has helped us to explore our potential in different fields since we participate in different activities.

The GTTP club is one of the best clubs in the school. It has personally assisted me in casual work and the essence of responsibility. On the other hand, the club has made our school look beautiful because of the flowers planted by the members.  What inspires me most to participate in the club is my interest in nature.  As a club, we engage a lot in environmental and wildlife activities which I adore, as a patron.

We have completed various projects including: planting of flowers, onions, beans, and kale, as well as poultry rearing.  These projects are helping us financially because we sell the produce to the school and use the money for transport during career days or while carrying out research.

Finally, the GTTP Club has helped us understand the importance of teamwork.

To see more pictures, please visit the Kyangala GTTP photo album on the Global Travel &Tourism Partnership- Kenya Facebook page.

Annual Student Photography Contest to capture “Something Special”

The annual GTTP Photo Contest gives students a chance to take a photo of something unique or special in their country — a place, event or person that tourists should see. The contest is open to all students currently enrolled in GTTP schools in GTTP-member countries. There are cash prizes for the top three photos in each country, and the international winning photos, also with a cash prize, are selected from these.

Normally there are only two international winners each year. However in 2014 the standard was exceptionally high, so 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners were announced – and two students tied for the second spot!

The top honors went to Chanté Robinson, South Africa. Regina Dudás from Hungary and Hanzhi Lu, China tied for second place. Third place was Chen Cong from China.

Head over to the GTTP website to see the outstanding photos along with the judges’ comments about why each one is so inspiring.

Nancy Needham, the Executive Director of GTTP, said: “The goal is to show a special aspect of a student’s community to people who have never been there. The photo should make the viewer want to visit. This is a great way to give students an opportunity to practice using visual tools to communicate – an essential skill in the travel and tourism industry.”

The deadline for the 2015 Photo Contest is on April 30, 2015. Students can read the entry guidelines and down load the entry form by visiting the Photography Contest Overview page on the GTTP website.

Revisiting Culinary Tourism – the GTTP Student Research topic of 2013

This article highlights how Emily Zehnder, Sarah Zehnder, and Leigh Thompson, the Canadian GTTP student winners in 2013, progressed their GTTP research work this year, 2014.

By Heather Brown, Teacher Sponsor, David Thompson Secondary School

The theme of the 2013 Student Research Competition sponsored by the GTTP focused on food and culinary tourism in the participant’s home country. Twenty-two high school students from 12 countries shared the results of their research at the student/teacher conference held in November 2013 in Monaco.

This educational initiative continued beyond the international conference with the work of the Canadian team.  Since their visit to Monaco, Emily Zehnder, Sarah Zehnder, and Leigh Thompson found inspiration in the work of their peers and decided to take action by re-designing and implementing some of their recommendations.

Earlier this year, the trio’s final report was used as a guide by a local Cultural Tourism committee.  In addition, one of their suggestions, a community kitchen, was simultaneously proposed by a recently formed local non-profit organization that was looking to create food-business incubator opportunities.

With their own action in mind, the team opted to propose two ideas to our town council.  The first request they made was that the recently hired event planner focus one community event on local food, which would include education, insight into food production, and of course delicious food for consumption.  The second suggestion, a taste trail, is one that the team hopes to implement.

In April 2014, as Grade 12 students, Emily, Leigh and Sarah were the only youth presenters at a provincial conference, “Food for Thought,” hosted by the Columbia Institute for locally elected officials in Vancouver, British Columbia. The young ladies took part in a workshop providing an opportunity for trustees and other elected leaders to discuss the influence the education system can have on engaging youth in finding solutions to community issues.

Food was the focus of the conference and included presenters such as Paula Daniels, who spoke about the importance of setting up networks for all members of the food system, Harold Steves, a pioneer farmer and elected official who is fighting to preserve farmland and Lenore Newman, a Canada Research Chair in Food Security.

Emily, Leigh and Sarah’s work was very well received and considered inspiring by many; in fact several of their ideas were tweeted by councillors and school trustees to their respective tourism committees.  Of course we made sure to take the time to eat delicious food and visit local farmers markets!

We look forward to their continued work and future accomplishments.  They are a team to watch!

GTTP Brazil student conference on “The Future of the Tourism Professional”

Vinicius Lages (Minister of Tourism) and Mariana Aldrigui (GTTP Brazil) talking about the need for better educated tourism professionals

GTTP Brazil organized a student conference on “The Future of the Tourism Professional” as part of the World Tourism Day celebrations on September 27th this year.

Mr. Vinicius Lages, Brazil’s Minister of Tourism, was the keynote speaker, inspiring a select group of students to search for knowledge relating tourism and innovation, and to think about serving their communities to help improved the quality of life where they live.

Global and Local Partner representatives shared their experiences as travel professionals, and outlined the path to a successful tourism career. GTTP Brazil’s chairman, Alberto Martins, emphasized that change in Brazil’s tourism industry can only happen when there is a change in education.

The student conference had 309 attendees and was held during the ABAV International Tourism Expo.

Alberto Martins (GTTP Brazil chairman),
Marcio Favilla (UNWTO executive director),
Vinicius Lages (Minister of Tourism) and
Antonio Azevedo (ABAV chairman, Brazilian Association of Travel Agents)

Luis Vargas (Travelport, a GTTP global partner) and Mariana Aldrigui (GTTP) sharing information on tourism careers

GTTP Brazil books printed and distributed by the
Ministry of Tourism from 2003 to 2006
(the second one is Passport to the World)

Students from around the world prove future is bright for travel industry at GTTP event

By: Elizabeth Aston, Senior Advisor, Industry Affairs, Amadeus IT Group

The GTTP annual student and teacher awards, which we hosted at the Amadeus Executive Briefing Centre in Sophia Antipolis, brought together gifted students from around the world to showcase their bright ideas to shape a sustainable future of travel.

Twenty-two high school students from 11 countries, including Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Russia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, shared their findings on applying technology in a sustainable way to enhance the visitor experience in their countries.

The winning projects were diverse, ranging from a case study from Olympia Brazil based on devising a simple clean renewable energy system to support local sustainable tourism development, to Kitale Kenya which focused on how the MPesa mobile payment system is revolutionising the entire tourism industry by providing a secure and cashless system, and is helping to boost the economy.

The winning Chinese project, which focused on smart technology being used in new sustainable hotels in Qingdao, underscored the ingenuity that is currently revolutionising this sector. Another impressive entry was from Sarvar in Hungary, where the winners illustrated in real time the simplicity and power of using QR code generator technology to simplify entrance processes with clear sustainable advantages for the travel industry.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the event was the poise and confidence with which these teenagers presented their projects, despite the fact that for most of them English is not their first language and many have never travelled abroad before nor presented to a large audience. For the students and teachers, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be selected to represent their country and travel to Nice to take part in this prestigious event.

Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive. A student from Hong Kong commented that “it has been a precious learning and development opportunity,” while a Jamaican teacher said “Thank you for educating students about making better life changing choices” and their student remarked that “dreams do really come true.”

A Kenyan teacher and student said: “Thank you for everything. It is inspiring and impacts greatly my future as a tourism teacher” and “I will use this as an opportunity to achieve greater things.” Finally, a school principal said “I really want to assure you that you have made a huge difference to the lives of all of us.”

To wrap up the event – there was a gala dinner at the Le Meridien and everyone had a fabulous time, especially the students, who performed with great gusto when asked to spontaneously deliver a national song or dance, showing that they were even more talented than already proven!

Amadeus has been an inaugural partner of the GTTP since 1999, and other international industry leaders supporting the GTTP include American Express, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Delta Air Lines, Enterprise Holdings, The Hertz Corporation, Hogg Robinson Group, KDS, Lufthansa, Starwood Hotel & Resorts, and Travelport, all of whom have executives serving on the GTTP’s Advisory Board.

There is potential for many of these students to rise to the top of our industry and become future leaders and who knows, perhaps one day some of them may even sit on the board of GTTP.

Head over to the GTTP website for more on this charitable foundation and have a look at their Facebook page for great pictures from the event.

This article was originally published on the Amadeus corporate blog.

Read all about this year’s student/teacher conference in Nice, France!

This week 22 student winners from 11 nations are presenting their findings on “Technology and Sustainability” in travel destinations

The Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP) is hosting its annual student/teacher conference at Le Meridien Nice in France from November 24 to November 28. Twenty-two high school students from 11 countries will share their finding on applying technology to enhance the visitor experience in their countries as well as the operations of the Travel and Tourism industry.

The students are winners of the 2014 Student Research Competition sponsored by the GTTP, a multi-country educational program to introduce young people to career opportunities in Travel and Tourism.

Student competition entrants research GTTP-assigned topics, which vary year to year. Winners at the national level present their findings or “case studies” at the annual conference.

“We structure these competitions to encourage the development of skills these young people will need in their careers and to focus them on issues and trends important to our industry,” said Michel Taride, Chair of the GTTP Advisory Board and Group President of Hertz International.

Nancy Needham, Executive Director of GTTP, said “Destinations want to continue being a place worth visiting. ‘Sustainability’ means people have employment, environments are protected, and visitors have a positive impact on the destination they are visiting. It all takes work.”

The GTTP, established in 1996, works in Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania and the United Kingdom. School systems provide teachers and classrooms. Some 2,500 local and international companies share their expertise with teachers and students and provide financial and in-kind support.

The international industry leaders supporting the GTTP are Amadeus, American Express, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Delta Air Lines, Enterprise Holdings, The Hertz Corporation, Hogg Robinson Group, KDS, Lufthansa, Starwood Hotel & Resorts, and Travelport. Their executives serve on GTTP’s Advisory Board.

Always believe in your career dream: it can come true!

From the GTTP to the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. The story of Yen Li

Crishner Lam is a 11-year veteran instructor in GTTP Hong Kong’s program, which serves some 15,500 students in 155 schools. Earlier this year he took a class to tour the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, where one of his former students, Yen Li now works.
Here is the story of Yen Li’s career since she was a GTTP student at the Lok Sin Tong Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School*, as told by Crishner.

“In 2002, Yen and her fellow Travel &Tourism classmate Katie Chong presented an inspiring ‘heritage tourism’ case study named “Touring Walled Villages” to GTTP’s tourism leaders and student representatives. The study was presented during the GTTP International Conference held in Sofia Antipolis, near Cannes in southern France” said Crishner.

“Yen was deeply inspired by everyone she met at the meeting and by everything she experienced during the event. She became determined to follow her dream and make a career in Travel & Tourism” wrote Crishner.

“The following year” he added  “Yen graduated with a good grade in her T&T public examination and proceeded directly to study T&T at the Institute of Vocational Education – a renowned diploma program offered by the government-established Vocational Training Council. Here she met Chammy Lau, who was her teacher and who now is both the GTTP Hong Kong’s Director and a lecturer at the famous HKCC PolyU”.

Surrounding the Kingdom – Photo by Marc Willard

The momentum, the passion and the international exposure that the GTTP had brought to Yen led to her being chosen for the highly sought-after ‘Disney Scholarship’ to Walt Disney World in Florida for one entire year.

“At Disney World,” wrote Crishner “she strove, she learned, she developed herself all-round, she worked very hard, but also used her time-off days to experience more through travelling to the Caribbean and within the USA.”

“Welcome to Hong Kong Disneyland” – Photo by Loren Javier

“After returning to Hong Kong – Crishner continued – Yen joined the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and has moved ahead quite successfully in her career. She was promoted to ‘representative host’ position, focusing on generating high quality service to the resort’s VIPs. Her proactive character made her one of those who create key service elements and also train the resort staff members to run the famous ‘Disney’s Hospitality in Practice’ day training program for students at secondary and post-secondary levels”.

“To create a happy surprise, she decided to conduct the day training program herself when I took my class to the Disneyland Hotel” told Crishner. “It was a ‘magic moment’ for me, her former teacher, as well as for my students.”

“GTTP’s student conference changed my life… and you should always believe in your career dream… it can come true!” Yen told the students while, as they say in Hong Kong, “a ‘bit of smoke’ got in her eyes”.

*Yen Li studied Travel & Tourism at Lok Sin Tong Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School

The impact of big events on local communities: the case of the Cheung Chau Island festival

Have you ever wondered what happens when a homegrown village festival becomes swamped by tens of thousands of visitors? How do the villagers feel about it?

This is not an idle question. Festivals have become big business around the world, and some overwhelm their host communities.

GTTP Hong Kong’s Director, Chammy Y.L. Lau from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in collaboration with Yiping Li (University of Hong Kong), has published the results of their research into one example of this topic. The investigation focused on a traditional festival held on Hong Kong’s Cheung Chau Island.

Photo by Tomoaki INABA

Every year, usually in late April or early May, three 60-foot towers covered in steamed buns become one of Hong Kong’s signature visual images. These are one of the core parts of a weeklong festival held on the island.

At the core of the Festival is a tradition of thanksgiving and prayers for protection started by a tiny fishing community in the aftermath of an 18th century epidemic. Year after year, the festival evolved to include other elements of the Chinese traditional culture, and today the festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors during that one week.

As part of the GTTP’s Student Research Competition on “Festival and Tourism”, the GTTP students from Hong Kong examined the 2011 edition of the Cheung Chau Festival. They looked at all of Hong Kong’s many festivals, with a specific focus on their financial benefits and developed a comprehensive report that is now published on the GTTP website.

Chammy and her colleague took the research a step further, and developed an in-depth investigation on what the festival means to the villagers in terms of religion, heritage, social bonding.

“McVeggie”, photo by I Stole TV

In a nutshell, the outcome of the research is that the villagers are intensely proud of what the Festival has become. The money that flows in is clearly one of the main reasons why,  but the symbolic elements are still there. During the Festival, residents ritually purify themselves, clean the streets before the festivities begin, and serve no meat – even the local McDonald’s becomes vegetarian. The sense of community that organizing and managing the Festival brings is definitely one of the main drivers for the villagers of the Cheung Chau Island.

The long answer to Chammy’s research question is clearly longer and delivers a more insightful view on the Festival and its value to the inhabitants of the Island, and is available  on the prestigious Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change.
Congratulations to Professor Chammy Y.L. Lau, GTTP Hong Kong Director: this is her first research paper in an internationally refereed academic journal!

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