SINGAPORE - The travel sector is moving towards more novel, personalised and - in a pandemic world - safe experiences enabled by technology, even as conscious tourism means that greener practices will become the norm.
So while global tourism continues its teeter towards recovery, tourism and hospitality schools here are positioning their students to ride the wave of digital innovation and sustainability.
"The schools have also introduced new course modules that pivot towards digital and hybrid hospitality management as well as sustainability," said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling at the opening of fourth joint polytechnic-ITE hospitality and tourism career fair organised by Republic Polytechnic (RP).
Addressing students from tourism and hospitality courses attending the webinar on Thursday (Jan 27), she added: "You will have the opportunity to immerse yourselves in augmented and virtual reality, and at the same time, be familiar with a wide variety of green efforts that aim to reduce carbon footprint."
In line with industry trends, RP's School of Hospitality has incorporated modules on digital marketing, data analytics, innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability in its courses since 2020.
The hotel and hospitality management course, for instance, introduced a module on sustainability in event planning, while technology for hybrid events will be trialled in the integrated events management course's Exhibition Training Lab, a mock-up event space that will be revamped this year.
Ms Low, who is also Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, said: "The importance of tourism goes beyond offering quality leisure options - it boosts and reinforces Singapore's status as a global hub and serves as a conduit for businesses, capital and talent."
The Singapore Tourism Board on Tuesday revealed that Singapore drew a historic low for international visitor arrivals last year, a drop of more than 80 per cent from 2020. Visitor spending last year was also less than half of 2020's.
It may take a few years for Singapore's international visitor arrivals and tourism receipts to return to pre-pandemic levels, Ms Low added.
RP's School of Hospitality has enhanced its programmes to equip its students for employment in other sectors, said the school's acting director Fu Chuan Chong.
"We are seeing traditional job roles pivot to take on an innovative spin, with an emphasis on new skillsets, including digitalisation, technology, analytics, experience creation and sustainability," he said.
New topics such as hybrid operations and immersive technology have been introduced into the integrated events management course.
Second-year student Muhamad Riduwan Hanafi, 21, said: "These will allow students like me to be prepared and equipped with the skills we need for the future. (The pandemic) has forced us to rethink and reimagine how events and tourism can take place."
RP has also converted more than 20 short courses into online ones to upskill hospitality employees.
Ms Low added: "As Gen Z and digital natives, I am confident you will contribute to our next phase of digital transformation as we continue to evolve our tourism strategies for the future."