ASATA Column: A Professional Industry

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Does anyone recall the days when the only way to book an airplane ticket was by calling a travel agent? Today, the Internet with its multitude of online travel websites, offers stiff competition to travel agents. But there is still considerable value to these professionals and retaining and maintaining their talents is at the core of ASATA’s continuing success.

Training and development are the keys to ensuring that the very best professional service is available to the travelling public. To encourage travel agents to pursue additional qualifications, ASATA members have access to the ASATA Professional Programme, an online registry for consultants to list their verified competencies and continuous professional development. This gives each member a unique profile of relevant skills as a professional travel consultant.

ASATA is in the process of applying to SAQA, the South African Qualifications Authority, for recognition as a professional body. In order to achieve this status there are several criteria which need to be met. Fortunately, many of these processes are already in place through ASATA’s various compliance documents.

Once this recognition has been achieved, professional travel consultants will be awarded with a specific designation, which they achieve by proving competence, continuous professional development and on-going training, along with updating their profiles on a regular basis. As a recognised professional body, ASATA can be involved with curriculum development that is relevant and complies with the requirements of the travel industry.

ASATA will engage with educators regarding continuous and relevant training. It will be involved in updating curricula and will put experts in touch with lecturers to ensure the people entrusted with training students understand the industry for which they are preparing the new workforce. This will ensure that graduates are workplace ready. Much of this will need to be achieved via the industry SETA CATHSSETA and other funding channels.

Youth and its engagement in this industry is a universal concern. The challenge for associations like ASATA is to turn the career of travel consultant into an appealing one, and fast track interested youngsters’ progression along their professional pathway in the travel industry.

Otto de Vries

CEO: ASATA