HUNDREDS of secondary school students will benefit from funds raised from today's walk. The Hong Kong Tourist Association, which expects the walk-a-thon to raise $1.68 million, plans to give $500,000 to the Travel and Tourism Education Programme (TTEP). More than 300 TTEP students will take part in the walk and hold a parade at the Hong Kong Sports Institute stadium. The walk was an ideal opportunity for students to meet leaders in the tourism industry, programme director Patricia Lui Pui-chu said. Launched in 1993, the two-year TTEP programme, in Chinese and English, is for secondary school students in Forms Four and Five who are studying for the Hong Kong School Certificate (HKSC). Course teaching notes and local case studies in the TTEP student textbooks would be updated with money from the walk, Ms Lui said. 'The course has only been running since September 1993 but already 800 students have graduated. 'The course is academic and a legitimate part of the secondary school curriculum, which is being taught in 26 schools,' she said. The pilot programme is the first the Education Department has offered following lengthy research and co-operation with leaders in the tourism and travel industry. With hospitality, tourism and travel industries accounting for a large percentage of the territory's foreign revenue, it was important course material was relevant and applicable to Hong Kong, Ms Lui said. 'Giving secondary school students a taste of life in the tourism field before they decide on a career will benefit the industry in the long term,' she said. 'Although the course does not train students to be travel agents or hotel staff, it gives them a behind-the-scenes look at the industry.' After successfully completing HKCE and the two-year Travel and Tourism Education Programme, many students elected to continue studying the subject at the tertiary level. Ten of the first 800 graduates had left school for jobs in the industry but the other 760 had decided to further their secondary education and enrolled in Form Six, Ms Lui said. 'An initial Education Department survey has found that 30 graduates from the programme will pursue education in the travel and tourism fields. 'Even though some Form Four and Five students may not want to continue studies in tourism, our course is very practical. It benefits students regardless of whether they will go into the industry.' Six modules are taught in the TTEP programme, which also is offered in nine other countries, giving students an overview of the local, regional and global tourism industries. They also learn about major tourist destinations, travel technology, communication networks and different cultures. Local case studies were important as the face of Hong Kong's tourism industry changed rapidly, with hotels being pulled down and a new airport and convention centre set to open, Ms Lui said. Educating secondary students about tourism would also ensure Hong Kong remained a major tourist destination, she said. 'Including the programme in secondary school education shows the important emphasis government is putting on travel and tourism. 'While qualified and trained staff is important for growth of the local industry, maintaining and developing a world-class curriculum is expensive. 'TTEP, a non-profit organisation, relies on sponsors for $1.2 million to cover operational costs and the extra funding from the HKTA's Walk for Charity is greatly appreciated.' American Express Foundation, Cathay Pacific, the Hotels' Association and Skal Hong Kong sponsor the Travel and Tourism Education Programme.