World events, the economy, tastes and trends, and the technology of travel—all of these and more have an effect on global tourism. And despite a decline in American travel in recent years, the website peopleandplanet.net reports, “By some measure, tourism may already be the world’s largest industry, with annual revenue approaching $500 billion.” A major in tourism will get you a foot in the door to this ever-booming industry. And the sky’s the limit—quite literally—on where you go from there. Tourism majors aim to discover the world’s top destinations and how best to encourage people to visit them. From the dreamy, steamy islands of the South Pacific to Sweden’s Icehotel, you’ll learn how to make guests feel welcome and enjoy a safe and memorable stay. A tourism major covers the whole spectrum of travel—you’ll study everything from the booking of flights to facilitating operations at a resort hotel. You’ll use the tourism industry’s most prevalent electronic databases and discover how to navigate other travel-related computer programs and systems. Count on learning how to market and sell travel destinations and products, including how to promote tourism in new places and how to sustain interest in classic tourist destinations. In addition, you’ll examine how Internet technology is affecting the Tourism industry and how to use this technology most advantageously. Your tourism major should also touch on the effect tourism has on the environment—and how certain aspects of the industry are working to minimize those effects. Tourism is more global than ever, and this major will explore the role it plays in the world—how it affects cities and countries both economically and culturally. You’ll learn where the industry has been and where it might go in the future. (Is a moon resort really viable? You’ll be able to tell us.) Before you graduate, you should be a pro at giving knowledgeable and friendly customer service and managing all aspects of the travel experience. After college, you’ll have the skills you need to pursue a career for an airline, a travel agency, or many other sorts of travel service organization. Tourism is an interdisciplinary major, and your course work will draw from accounting, marketing, communication, and other business courses, as well as courses in geography and specific elements of tourism.
Since you’ll be taking courses in a wide variety of fields for your tourism major, the best way to prepare is to take classes in many different areas in high school. Math, science, and the humanities are all important. People who work in tourism must be excellent communicators, so any classes that improve your writing, public speaking, and reading skills will be especially valuable. Try to become familiar with the world we live in. Take a course in geography, or pore over maps. Tourism is a major economic force in even the smallest towns, so you might investigate how tourism is at work in your own community.