This year, the University of Deusto (Bilbao and San Sebastián, Basque Country) celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Tourism Studies programme. Jeroen Oskam was invited to speak on this occasion about “Tourism Studies 2014-2064. Keys for Tourism Education is a globalised world” (Estudiar Turismo de 2014 a 2064. Claves para la formación en turismo en un mundo globalizado).
How to adapt?
In his keynote speech Oskam looked at the future of tourism, the professional of the future, the student of the future and the university of the future. The main question was: With the changes we are experiencing in our industry, how should universities and students adapt?
Recent publications in the Spanish press have raised concerns about the job perspectives of recent graduates. Many seem to be working below their educational level. But, as Oskam argued, tourism is a young sector which is currently in transition towards a more knowledge intense industry. Its continued growth will increase its economic, social and cultural importance in the future. Well prepared people will be needed, especially for the many strategic questions the industry will face, such as tourism pressure on big cities, new players as Amazon entering the travel market, tourism’s claim on scarce natural resources or security issues.
The role of the university
Universities should therefore not focus on operational tasks in the industry, but should adopt a leading role in addressing these strategic issues. The expiration dates of the information they teach will in the future become even closer. Their main responsibility will be to teach their students interpretation skills rather than mere information; resilience and adaptive capacity will be key for the career success of their graduates.