How can the NZ Diploma in Tourism and Travel pave the way for a regenerative future in tourism?

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Geytenbeek, Helen
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Professional Practice
Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology
Kirkwood, Jo
Simmons, Michael
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand Diploma in Tourism and Travel
Otago, Te Pūkenga courses
tourism education
tourism industry
regenerative enterprise
Otago (N.Z.)
New Zealand
Geytenbeek, H. (2023). How can the NZ Diploma in Tourism and Travel pave the way for a regenerative future in tourism? (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Professional Practice). Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology
The tourism industry in New Zealand has emerged from a Covid 19 pandemic that halted international travel into the country. Due to the impact of the pandemic, many tourism businesses were compelled to lay off employees, and some even had to shut down. In addition, the number of students pursuing tertiary education in tourism has been declining for various reasons. One factor is the misconception that tourism is not a viable career option, despite the strong employment opportunities it offers. Furthermore, the government's announcement of centralising New Zealand's 16 polytechnics and unifying existing programmes has created opportunities for innovation and growth in these areas. This research project was an opportunity to explore methods of developing a sustainable tourism programme (NZ Diploma in Tourism and Travel) that considers economic, environmental, and social factors. The primary research question that has guided my exploration is: What approaches can be taken by Otago Polytechnic/Te Pūkenga to provide a sustainable and effective tourism programme that accommodates the needs of a dramatically altered environment? A case study methodology was used to study the tourism industry’s preference for how tourism education programmes should be taught and the type of content that is required for graduates. The research methods chosen were interviews and focus groups with industry professionals and tourism graduates. The data collection phase consisted of on-line interviews with seven participants from a variety of small to medium tourism businesses within the Otago and Central Otago area of the South Island of New Zealand. A focus group consisting of six local tourism operators that represent the accommodation, transport, activities, attractions and training sectors of the Otago area and a group interview with three graduates that completed their NZ Diploma in Tourism and Travel (level 5) from Otago Polytechnic were conducted in 2022. The findings indicated that the tourism industry was transitioning back into a dramatically changed environment and that a regenerative approach of giving back and leaving a place in better condition than previously found, was needed. A collaborative and collective approach from all sectors is needed to create a values-based environment that has a lower environmental footprint. To ensure that the industry advances in a positive direction in the future, it is crucial to have employees who possess a range of desirable qualities. These include storytelling skills, cultural competency, problem-solving abilities, passion, adaptability, and resilience. Additionally, it is important for these employees to understand the regenerative design concept. Flexible options for tourism education, for example hybrid study while gaining experience in the industry with practitioner delivery and assessment options, need to be developed. One of the recommended actions for the tourism industry is to incorporate regenerative sustainability into the entirety of tourism education. This can be achieved by offering a hybrid education program that immerses tourism graduates in the industry and equips them with leadership skills, cultural competency, soft skills experience, and knowledge of regenerative tourism.
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