ASATA column: A Better Grounding in Travel

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It seems as though most industries are experiencing a skills shortage and the travel industry is no exception. Twenty years ago school leavers joined the industry because they wanted to see the world and this was often enough to entice these youngsters into wanting to work in a travel agency. 

Travel didn’t make you wealthy, but rather, rich in experience. Further to this, travel employees enjoyed the benefits of being sent on ‘educational’ trips to experience destinations. This familiarisation resulted in them returning to their desks and selling their products with more knowledge, giving their customers a sense of comfort that they knew what they were talking about. 

Sadly, the economic viability of these trips has reduced their availability and whilst they continue to be offered, they are not as frequent.  So now, why do school leavers join the travel industry? There remains that element of ‘fun’ and glamour, but for many it is an option that does not require tertiary education in the form of a degree. These youngsters may have attended a course at a college or training institution that offers a career in Travel and Tourism and are exposed to the theory, but upon entry, find out that it is a complex, stressful and responsible job.

For this reason, ASATA has implemented the ASATA Professional Programme (APP). This is not a training programme, but rather a plan that recognises the training that individuals employed in the industry have completed. Through a process of accumulating points for previous training, as well as attending initiatives that are constantly on offer within the industry to ‘continue travel education’ via workshops, showcases and educational trips,  employees will now be recognised as ASATA Professionals. 

This badge offers you, the consumer, comfort in knowing that the travel professional managing your arrangements is skilled and competent to undertake your booking. We have highlighted before just how important it is to only deal with ASATA members, but now you can have the added assurance that the person you are dealing with has also received the acknowledgment of the guiding body of the industry. Next time you call an ASATA agency, ask to speak to someone who has enrolled in the ASATA Professional Programme. You won’t be sorry.

Robyn Christie

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