My name is Dominique Brown and I am currently completing my second year of studies in Food and Beverage Operations at the school of Tourism and Hospitality at the University of Johannesburg.
What are Tourism and Hospitality all about and why did I choose it as a Career Field? What does it mean to me and how will it affect my future?
Well in truth, I at first didn’t have an idea of what tourism and hospitality entailed or what it would mean to me. But over the years, I heard many stories from friends and family members who had travelled abroad to different parts of the world; with one of them being my very own sister, who worked on a luxury cruise-liner. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to their stories about their experiences, and it brought out curiosity in me. I did further research and realised how hospitality and tourism are linked to humanity. I became more inspired and realised that I have a passion for this industry. No matter the situation being faced, it has always brought me great joy to put a smile on someone else’s face. And aren’t we all truly happiest when doing what we love most.
Hence, I decided to pursue a career in this field. Initially, I was unsure of what to expect and how I would feel as time went by, as we all usually are when starting a new journey. But I now know that I made the right decision in choosing this path. I genuinely enjoy studying about the different intricacies that lie within the Tourism and Hospitality industry and feel that I have gained so much knowledge. Being in this field of study has taught me the importance of effective communication as well as diplomacy. It has also taught me to be more aware of my emotions as well as the emotions of the people I communicate with. Aside from that, I have also improved my problem-solving skills, my ability to work well with others as well as my ability to work effectively under pressure.
At the current moment, I see myself continuing in this field and hoping to have a fulfilling and prosperous future. However, that said, it seems that for now, it will not be easy to accomplish anymore. Undeniably, Tourism and Hospitality has been one of the hardest-hit industries by the COVID-19 pandemic. The current restrictions on movement and the world-wide lockdowns implemented to prevent the spread of the virus has negatively affected many tourism and hospitality establishments as well as the economy as a whole. With Regards to the Food and Beverage industry, what is customer service without being able to interact with your customer on a personal level? Being hospitable shows that you care about your customers’ well-being, but how hospitable can you be when you are restricted to non-contact deliveries only? In the Hospitality Industry it is important to make people feel at home when they are not at home but how can this be possible if we are not allowed to open our hospitality establishments and are required to maintain social distancing? And finally, Tourism; it is a crucial contributor to economic growth, but how can we generate revenue for our countries when travel bans have been implemented and businesses are only allowed to operate under strict conditions?
Going forward, this industry is going to have a rough time recovering from the damage that has been caused by the pandemic. It is quite evident that many businesses have suffered huge losses with some even shutting down and many people have already and are going to continue losing their jobs. From my point of view, as a student who will one day need to be employed in this industry, the future seems bleak. I enjoy what I study, and I miss university but due to the circumstances, we have been forced to ride out the year and hope that next year will be better. It has been difficult to learn practical work from home and in 2021 I will be doing work-integrated learning. However, I fear that our industry would have not recovered by then. How will we as students be able to graduate when there is a huge chunk like this missing from our experience. But as tough as it may look right now, it does not mean that there is no light at the end of our tunnel. I passionately believe that the road to recovery is long but if we start today, surely, we will reach our destination sooner.
If anything, this pandemic has proven to us that we need to have the ability to adapt to a rapidly changing world. It has shown that many changes will have to be implemented in the future with regards to this industry. So, as much as the hospitality and tourism industry has suffered, it has also been provided with the perfect opportunity to create, explore and implement new strategies in line with our changing environment, to fulfil both the purpose of continuous development as well as to ensure survival. And I wish to be part of this process.
“For tourism businesses who take the time to understand the changing market we are facing, and are willing to adapt to drive new demand, the outlook remains good. Hospitality businesses must already be working on a strategy going forward to boost and highlight what they have to offer, whether it was their main focus before or not,” Guy Stehlik.
Tourism and Hospitality careers are like a never-ending vacation if you enjoy hard work and love what you do. It is one of the most exciting work environments to be in and I look forward to what the future holds for this industry. I hope to be there, learning, growing, and contributing to its success.