In part 2 of this blog feature, we continue to share insights from our info session, “The Future of Tourism in a Post-Pandemic World”. Hosted by Director of Admissions Michelle Bancroft, this session featured two of our experienced and passionate CTC instructors, Jeff Thomson (Travel & Tourism) and Alwyn du Plessis (Hospitality). In this blog, we will revisit what hospitality instructor Alwyn du Plessis had to share on the the future of the hospitality and tourism industries in 2021 and beyond.
Hospitality Instructor Alwyn du Plessis
Alwyn is our ever-optimistic Hospitality and Resort Management instructor at CTC. He is an international traveller who has been all around the world working in the hospitality industry. He began in South Africa, moved on to the UK for 3 years, Dubai for 4 years, and continued to work in Taiwan, California, Greece and finally Canada. Here are some of the insights and experiences he had to share with us:
“There were disasters in the past, there are disasters now and there will be disasters in the future. Every time we come back, we come back stronger and we come back better, because we learn from our experiences. Unfortunately things repeat themselves, but every time we like to think we are prepared better for what comes our way.
The biggest disaster that I experienced was in 2008 with the big financial crisis. On the 24th of September, 2008, about a week prior to the big crash, I was working for the Kerzner International Group, and we were preparing for the opening of the Atlantis property in Dubai. It was in conjunction with Jumeirah Island, which was opening at the same time as Atlantis. We were celebrating. There was a big fireworks display that cost about 15 million dollars, and we were having the party of our lives in anticipation of our grand opening. It was only about two days later when everything came down. Guests left the hotel, and bookings were cancelled not just in our properties but in all of Dubai. Dubai is very tourism-reliant, there are about 350+ hotels just in the city of Dubai. On Jumeirah Island alone, there are about 45 hotels. Many people lost their jobs, but I was lucky enough to work for a property that didn’t believe in firing people or letting people go. Hiring was frozen and some staff left to go back to their home countries. The people who stayed behind reduced their hours and did cross-training and deep cleaning, which is also something that is going on now. So there were many positive things that still happened, for which they needed people. At this time in Vancouver, some hotels opened their doors for first responders and nurses who couldn’t go home. Hotels kept going. Even if it was just a trickle, they still needed to keep a lot of staff. So they never really closed their doors, or at least not permanently.
We have now, in 2021, reached a time when we are getting ready to re-open. This is the year of training, preparing yourself, and positioning yourself so you are ready. In 2022 we are looking at the cruise ship industry returning around February or March, which is a huge part of the industry in Vancouver. So we will make a comeback, and we are getting ready!
In Dubai, the staff that had stayed and received cross training then had the experience to apply to many departments, and flourished in their careers. And that’s where we are right now. My students are nervous about the future, but I reassure them that they are in the perfect position. CTC has a very good reputation in the city of Vancouver, in my personal experience and in the context of my colleagues. The industry will come knocking at our door to ask our students to help them. It’s going to happen at the end of this year and beginning of next year; students we have now will be finishing up their programs and starting their co-ops and they will be ready to start their careers. They are in the PERFECT position right now to start their career and they will be in-demand. And this is the same for you if you are thinking of joining our school; you will position yourself to be sought-after once we get back to normal tourism levels in our city.
People are desperate to travel, we all are! Even I cannot wait to get on a plane! I will provide you with a couple of stats. In 2019 we had 6.2 million international tourists come to Vancouver. 3.4 million from the US, 1.4 million from Asia and 700,000 from Europe. That was 9 billion dollars from tourism in BC alone. This will come back to the same levels we experienced before.
Here is a quote I’d like to share: “Push harder than yesterday if you want a different tomorrow”. We all want a different tomorrow, a prosperous tomorrow, and a prosperous hospitality comeback that will be in your benefit. So we need you to be here so that we can service all the customers that are coming back.”