TUS Tourism Graduates are Critical to the Success of the Sector Industry Chiefs tell Spotlight on Tourism event.

Tourism graduates are in high demand and critical to the future success of the sector. That was the clear message from tourism industry leaders who attended the inaugural TUS Spotlight on Tourism careers event, held at the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS), Moylish Campus on Tuesday (April 16, 2024).

Students were given insight into career opportunities in the Irish tourism sector, while also offered an opportunity to meet with more than 30 industry partners and potential employers.

TUS currently has the highest employability number among honours degree graduates in the country, as it continues to work closely with industry to ensure highly skilled, work ready graduates.

TUS Head of Department of Hospitality, Tourism & Wellness in the Midwest June O’Byrne-Prior said, “It is crucial that third level institutions work closely with industry to understand how we can best equip our students to take on the mantle of leadership for tourism and hospitality amongst our new graduates.  At TUS Midwest, we see ourselves as the shapers of excellence, in research, education, and practical application, for our graduates joining the sector and contributing in a meaningful and constructive way.”

Addressing students Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, Chair of ITIC, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, spoke of the importance of creating pathways from education to industry. “The tourism and hospitality sector rely on a skilled graduate cohort willing and able to apply their learned skills and acquire on-the-job learning, to secure the next generation of tourism careers. I see work experience, placements, and early career mentorships as cornerstones to safeguarding excellence in tourism and hospitality futures.”

Tourism remains Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and regional employer, with 13% of the Irish population employed in this sector and a further 20,000 vacancies to be filled. ITIC tourism goals for 2030 include a 50% growth in the sector to €15 billion, supporting 350,000 jobs while meeting sustainable obligations.

At Tuesday’s tourism and education event Catherine Flanagan, CEO of AVEA, the Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions, told tourism students that visitor attractions had a high demand for graduates with a tourism-specific skill set, and urged students to consider a career working with some of Ireland’s most iconic tourism offerings. 

“Visitors to Ireland come because of the highly recognisable landscape, our culture and heritage, and our people, and we need to develop core skills in our young people to ensure we continually deliver on high expectations.  Ireland is not a once-in-a-lifetime destination; we want visitors to return again and again, to discover the wonderful experiences and attractions, and to enjoy longer, more meaningful stays.”

Meanwhile TUS’s Ms O’Byrne Prior thanked all of the tourism industry partners for their involvement in the event. “We see this as year one of a collaborative project with tourism and hospitality partners, creating clear pathways for new graduates and opening up of opportunities.  Career paths into hospitality management and culinary arts are well-established; we hope today’s event will encourage students to consider the rich opportunities that exist within visitor attractions – be they tour guiding, digital marketing, operations, HR, finance, or alternative revenue streams,” she said.

Tourism attractions and experiences from across Clare, Tipperary and Limerick attended the Spotlight on Tourism with a view to attracting, soon-to-be, Travel and Tourism graduates into a career in their businesses and organisations.

Currently tourism career opportunities exist in customer facing roles, including visitor experience management, but also behind the scenes in management and marketing. The public sector is also a key employer in tourism, with local authorities from the region also in attendance.

The panel discussion on the day was headlined by Kate Harold, Manager Lough Gur Visitor Centre and Lakeshore Park; Ollie Gleeson, CEO at Ollie’s Tours and Ivan Tuohy, Founder Great Visitor Experience.