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Capilano College hopes to ‘take B.C. to the next level’ in tourism

Centre for Leadership and Innovation in Tourism in Squamish to help in preparing workforce for 2010

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The Squamish campus of Capilano College designation as the province’s Centre for Leadership and Innovation in Tourism holds a lot of promise for Sea to Sky corridor communities.

A highly skilled, well-trained tourism workforce equipped to deal with the challenges of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is the anticipated result of this initiative. Other expected positive residuals include expanded programming and capital improvements to the satellite campus.

Tourism-based programs are currently well represented in the college’s calendar with a 16-month First Nations’ Tourism Management program, a two-year part-time Festival and Events Certificate program, a five-month intensive cook training program and a Wilderness Leadership program offered. The tourism industry has been a focus for the Squamish campus’s curriculum for the past decade. In recent years almost 20 per cent of the campus’s 500 students have been enrolled in tourism related courses.

Squamish campus manager Casey Dorin believes that formalizing this direction will have a positive effect on how tourism education and service is delivered in the province.

"We want to bring the whole of tourism education together to take B.C. to the next level," says Dorin.

"Basically we want make the Lower Mainland and the Sea to Sky corridor a world-class destination. Expo took us to the first level, 2010 will take us to the next level of tourism excellence."

Plans for advancing tourism education are in the embryonic stage, but a consortium comprised of industry and education professionals, as well as government representatives, will guide the centre’s policies. The mandate of the consortium is to develop new education approaches, increase access to programs throughout B.C. and to share information and resources with all other educational institutions in the province.

Maureen Douglas, of the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s Sea to Sky office, is enthusiastic about the centre’s potential and location.

"This means people in the corridor will be able to obtain the skills to excel in the area’s primary industry," says Douglas.

She also points out that by training locals, the challenges of housing in Whistler will be somewhat alleviated. But ultimately the centre will help by producing qualified workers to meet the challenges on the road to 2010.

"The demand for hospitality services leading up to and including the Winter Games will be extreme," says the VANOC representative. "Having the Centre for Leadership and Innovation in Tourism as a training facility will help ensure that we can offer a better, more mature level of service."

To achieve this goal, the campus will be expanding its program roster. A two-year Destination Resort Management program, currently in development, should be on the course calendar for fall 2005.

"We’re also planning to bring outdoor recreation programs up to the corridor and extend what our North Van campus does," says Dorin.

While some of the programs under the new Centre for Leadership and Innovation in Tourism will be two-year certificate programs, there will also be training programs of shorter duration, depending on industry needs. Whatever the program structure, educational delivery standards will remain high.

"We have a good balance of instructors here. While we have high academic standards, almost everyone who teaches in the tourism programs comes out of the industry," he says.

The distinction of being named Centre for Leadership and Innovation in Tourism will also have a positive effect on the Squamish campus’s capital expenditures.

"We’re currently at 127 per cent capacity. Being the Centre will help us with necessary infrastructure," says Dorin.

"But the really important thing is that this new direction will take us where we need to be in 30 years – and definitely in the next 10."

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