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I consider myself lucky to have found a job that uses the knowledge and expertise gained from the MSc Responsible Tourism Management program so soon after graduating.
Following completing the MSc program in 2006, I entered the world of consulting – which I quickly learned was more hard work than glitz and glam. I loved being involved in projects around the world – but never got the opportunity to visit the project sites. As the newbie, I did the ground work --- the research, the inventories, the market analyses, the recommendations based on the data on paper. Site visits are the prize of the more experienced and senior consultants -- and it takes time to achieve that level of experience. Plus, one of the greatest disappointments of consulting is not seeing the implementation of the project. More tangible projects will see a visitor centre or museum developed, but strategies are difficult to see the end results, especially not immediately.
More than a year ago, I moved into the world of community tourism development – in a government position where the implementation of projects is a key end result. I am now able to use my learnings from the MSc program, as well as my brief experience in the consulting field to see projects through from start to finish. More governments should take the same approach – as the result is thoughtfully planned tourism development. I quickly learned that responsible tourism is being developed without the label. In many places across Canada, tourism is organically being developed sustainably and responsibly.
It is rewarding to be a part of the enthusiasm in communities looking to enhance existing or develop new tourism opportunities. Even more encouraging is that communities don’t want to develop tourism that changes their character of place. They want to expand and diversify local economies though authentic visitor experiences - developing product that benefits the local community as well as visitors. I have seen evidence of this throughout Canada and it encourages me to believe tourism in Canada is on the right path.
I have two pieces of advice to new graduates moving out into the work world: 1) Consulting work is great if you can get it, but the world of consulting is saturated and competitive; and not all “sustainable/responsible tourism” consultants you are competing with have the same level of expertise or understanding of the issues. Workflow is unreliable and while you may get one great project to start, you could then be without for a while. 2) Don’t focus on “responsible tourism” job titles as they are few and far between. Look more closely at job descriptions – is the work organically responsible, or is there potential to incorporate more responsible practices?
I consider myself lucky to have found the job I have – but I know there are more jobs like it out there around the world. Trust and have confidence in the expertise you have gained through the MSc program and you will be successful in any position you obtain!
Laura McGowan (Canada), Graduated 2007