Degree is tourism may be ticket to big bucks New program can be taken here By Chris Woodall A new program in tourism management could be your ticket to employment with the big bucks. Directors of marketing, of human resources, of public relations: you can bet all these positions pay a lot more than slinging coffee or holding the ski lift chair steady for someone's bum. The provincial government has made it possible for area colleges to offer a program in tourism management through Open University. The course can be used by itself as a boost to your tourism career, or it will translate to the core two years of a four-year university degree in tourism management. In either case, they are important enhancements if you're serious about the tourism industry as a career. The nice twist on recent academic activity, however, is that in the new year you will be able to take the course in Whistler, via Internet or video conferencing as well as face-to-face teaching. Capilano College will be conducting the course at Whistler Secondary beginning in late January. An information night for locals to learn more is targeted for mid-December. And you should be keen to take it. "The future of tourism is growth," says Jonathan Rouse, who co-ordinates Capilano College's tourism management co-op diploma program. "I'll tell you right now, if it's not properly managed, our tourism industry will end up like logging and mining." Years ago it might have been okay to open a holiday camp and struggle to make a go of it simply because it seemed like a good idea, Rouse says, "but that's not good enough any more." The most important market is the international market," Rouse says. The numbers of visitors may be largest from regional areas, but the big bucks come from foreigners. "They're not after the mom and pop operation, they're after places like Whistler," Rouse says. "You didn't think Whistler was developed for the local market did you?" Because of the international nature of tourism, Whistler's direct competition is Vail and Europe, not other ski resorts in British Columbia, Rouse says. Despite the need to manage tourism business professionally, programs to teach tourism management are just coming on stream, Rouse says. "You're at the very forefront of the wave toward serious thorough education," he told a senior Whistler high school class. Indeed, Rouse has to go to England to get an advanced-level education in tourism management because such a program isn't available in Canada. B.C.'s 200-plus high schools have rudimentary tourism programs, but there's an increasing interest from people in their late 20s who are making a career shift to tourism, Rouse says. Capilano College's accelerated tourism management co-op program was developed with these people in mind. Instead of doing the course in two years, which would dissuade potential students not keen to lose two working years, the fast-track program is one year and two months long. What the program is not is a hospitality program focusing on hotel or food and beverage management; nor is it a program teaching how to run a travel agency. "We focus on the business of tourism and how to manage it in terms of developing in-bound products," Rouse says of tourism aspects that bring people to B.C. "We spend a lot of time on advertising, marketing, financial planning, management, and look at a lot of speciality tourism such as eco or adventure tourism. "At the end of the course you should be able to walk into a bank with a professional business plan for a tourism project," Rouse says. The four terms begin in January with an academic foundation; then a 20-week work experience term through the summer; followed by a return to academics in terms beginning in September and then January of the next year. If you're already working in tourism, you may find that work experience can be counted for credit toward your diploma. The good news is that personal maturity is about all you need to qualify. It also helps if you have a general knowledge of computers, can write English well, and have some aptitude in business or statistics maths. The bad news is tuition is $3,000, plus another $800 for textbooks and another $250 in related course fees. When you think that management careers in tourism easily start in the mid-$30,000 range and go into the high $50,000 range, that initial investment in your future may not seem so large. And if you want to stretch your college diploma into a university-level degree, you can. Earning Capilano College's diploma will "ladder" you into the university program with the second and third year to your credit, Rouse says. The first university year is a general knowledge year and the fourth year advances what was taught in the diploma program: entrepreneurship, advanced environmental stewardship, human resources, international marketing, and so on. The pilot of the fast track diploma starts in late January, 1997, Rouse says, as long as there are enough interested Whistlerites. The best bet is to call him for more details: (604) 984-4960; or fax 984-1761.