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Postgraduate courses on hospitality and tourism

With the focus now on cultural and heritage hot spots and live entertainment, courses are giving professionals the skills they need for tomorrow

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 December, 2017, 10:04am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 January, 2018, 11:00am

As Hong Kong implements strategies to consolidate its position as a hub for multidestination travel, a shifting focus from shopping hot spots to cultural and heritage, green tourism and live entertainment is creating a demand for a new breed.

Efforts are being made not only to maintain a steady growth in visitor numbers, but also to attract more high-yield overnight visitors to ensure a healthy and sustainable development of the tourism industry.

With more indoor and outdoor venues coming online in the next few years, now is the time to start preparing the workforce with the skills needed for the future
Solange Leung, HKU SPACE

At present, Hong Kong’s hospitality and tourism sector employs about 280,000 people, accounting for about 7 per cent of total employment, and contributing about 5 per cent of Hong Kong’s GDP.

Professor Brian King, associate dean and postgraduate programmes director at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU)’s hotel and tourism management school, says the continuing development of Hong Kong’s tourism sector requires a steady supply of multiskilled talent to work in different sectors.

King notes how disruptive technologies and the ubiquitous use of social media and big data are creating new jobs within the hotel industry such as managing revenues and preparing responses to support guest social media activities. He explains that while the collaborative economy is impacting on hospitality and tourism through platforms such as Airbnb, Uber and food delivery services, disruptive technologies are also creating new opportunities for enterprising graduates.

“It’s an exciting time for our graduates,” King says. The school stays in step with Hong Kong’s evolving tourism environment through offering a broad range of hospitality and tourism programmes.

King says good examples include the master’s degree in global hospitality business (MGH) and the master of science in international wine management (IWM) which, according to King, was developed because Hong Kong is a duty-free centre for wine and is well positioned as a global centre for the wine trade.

The MGH programme, meanwhile, was developed in recognition of the global nature of Hong Kong’s hospitality and tourism industry, requiring students to spend a semester at the world’s top hospitality schools in Switzerland (Lausanne Hotel School), Hong Kong (the Polytechnic’s school) and the US (University of Houston). The initiative recognises that careers of hospitality professionals are truly global, King says.

The PolyU’s taught postgraduate programmes target candidates who have already acquired some related industry or work experience.   

Now entering the 16th year, the PolyU school’s programmes include master of science degrees in international hospitality management (IHM) and international tourism and convention management (ITCM). Master of science students have an opportunity to acquire hands-on professional experience working at Hotel ICON, which is owned and operated by the PolyU.

General entry requirements for the master of science programmes include a bachelor’s degree in hotel and tourism management, recreation and leisure management related areas plus industry work experience of not less than one year.

“It is important for professionals to have a passion to provide quality products and services, a desire to play an active role in a sector of the economy that is growing globally,” King stresses.  Aware of the need to provide groundbreaking programmes that cater to the senior level of professionals associated with the industry, in 2007, the PolyU’s school launched the world’s first professional doctoral programme in hotel and tourism management.

The doctor of hotel and tourism management (D.HTM) is structured to prepare participants to excel in the global environment by developing their innovation, creativity and advanced research skills within an Asian context.

“Ever since its launch, the programme has been attracting a range of professionals, from experienced practitioners and government representatives, to academics,” King says.

The self-financed, credit-based D.HTM is offered in a mixed mode of study with the option of full-time or part-time modes. Subjects are designed to accommodate the learning needs of mature and experienced industry leaders and educators who already hold a master of science degree in hotel and tourism management, or equivalent. Learning and teaching methods place emphasis on experiential exercises, seminars and self-guided study.

With Hong Kong’s ability to attract a range of international and regional live entertainment acts expected to increase, the University of Hong Kong’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (HKU SPACE) has launched a postgraduate diploma in international live entertainment and event management.

Solange Leung, senior programme director at HKU SPACE College of Business and Finance, says with the opening of the West Kowloon Cultural District and the Kai Tak Sports Park in the pipeline, the prospects for Hong Kong’s international live entertainment and event industry look promising.

Leung also notes infrastructure connecting Hong Kong to neighbouring cities such as Macau and those in mainland China is another key driver behind the launch of the new postgraduate diploma.

“With more indoor and outdoor venues coming online in the next few years, now is the time to start preparing the workforce with the skills needed for the future,” says Leung, who explains how live entertainment events can be used as a tool for tourism destination development.

“Events can be promoted to attract tourists to Hong Kong and also used to encourage visitors to lengthen their stay,” notes Leung, who adds there are economic and cross-industry benefits that can be leveraged from staging live events. Leung also notes that entertainment events tailored for the local community can be promoted to attract tourists.

However, Leung says to compete with regional neighbours who are also stepping up their live entertainment events’ promotion activities, it is vital that Hong Kong has professionals with the capabilities to conceptualise, design, manage and deliver first-class live entertainment.

Leung says, many people working in the live entertainment and event industry learn their skills on the job. She says the HKU SPACE postgraduate diploma provides participants with a more systematic way of developing their skills.

The diploma programme includes courses on event design and production, creating a sensory and engaging event experience, international live entertainment, event touring and management, cross-cultural communication in the event industry, integrated marketing and brand communications, contingency planning and risk management and event sponsorship and partnerships.

The part-time, one-year programme scheduled to start in March next year is designed for bachelor’s degree holders from all disciplines.

Since many jobs involve different degrees of event management, Leung says the diploma programme is helpful for individuals working across a wide range of sectors, including marketing, public relations and retailing.

Graduates from the programme could consider positions such as event manager, event designer, event producer, entertainment manager, operations and logistics manager.

Graduates may also consider furthering their studies by taking the HKU master of science in marketing with festival and event management, in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University.

This story appeared in the Professional Education Guide 2018 as: bright future beckons