Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis launched the first ever degree courses at the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) in the presence of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Secretary-General Mr Taleb Rifai.
Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis said that the primary function of ITS is to ensure that our tourism industry can benefit from the contribution of employees who are qualified and well-trained to carry out their respective jobs, and to develop the range of courses and programmes accordingly. ‘To carry out its mission effectively, the Institute interacts constantly with the tourism industry through its Scientific Committee, to ensure that its programmes of study satisfy the standards required to achieve excellence within the industry.’
The Minister explained that this is in line with the objective of the launch of the first ITS degree programme in Culinary Arts. The Institute is also in advanced discussions to introduce another two degree courses, namely in Gastronomy and International Hospitality Management. “This is a historical occasion for the ITS. The delivery of degree programmes related directly to hospitality and tourism are the culmination of years of academic development, which will give students the possibility to advance to the levels of excellence required by the industry. Significantly, such degrees have never been available in Malta, and students needed to venture abroad to further their studies in these important tourism subjects”, said Minister Edward Zammit Lewis.
The Minister stated that these degree courses are the first, but will not be the last. All these strategic developments will raise the profile of ITS not only locally, but also internationally. They will also give our students the opportunity to acquire a higher level education locally and, therefore, be better prepared for their career progression in hospitality and tourism.
This is another initiative which perfectly fits with the HR strategy as set out in the National Tourism Policy, which we have been implementing over the past few years. We want everyone to view employment in tourism and hospitality sectors as a career; and to approach such a career with the confidence provided through formal and quality academic studies, practical training, and formal accreditation, emphasized Dr Zammit Lewis.
Moreover, the Minister reiterated that during this year, work will start on a new state-of-the-art campus for ITS at Smart City. This campus will be able to house 2,500 students and the relocation, which shall be completed by 2019, will herald a new beginning for the Institute, which is seeking to become an international and Mediterranean centre of excellence in tourism education.
During his concluding remarks, Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis said that it must be ensured the tourism work force is equipped with the knowledge, motivation, and the tools necessary to deliver, and to match, and possibly supersede, the expectations of the visitors to our islands.
ITS Chief Executive Officer Mr Pierre Fenech stated that “we are also signing strategic agreements with top reputable Universities and Institutions that realised the big potential of the Institute of Tourism Studies and are willing to come on board this journey. The first sign of these agreements can be seen in this prospectus, with the launch of the first three B.A. (Hons) degrees in conjunction with such institutions. This will give our students not only the possibility to graduate from our reputable institute, but also in the process being able to study for a period of time within these institutions abroad and obtain a wider experience.”
In the meantime, Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis and UNWTO Secretary-General Mr Taleb Rifai signed a cooperation agreement with the purpose of promoting international internships of students and recent graduates at UNWTO from Malta.
Both parties recognize the importance of promoting training and capacity building for human resources, and are willing to combine their efforts and work together in promoting the access of the Maltese students to international internships at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
During the internship, the trainee(s) will be entitled to a monthly stipend of 700 euros, granted on a co-sharing basis between UNWTO and the Ministry.
Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis stated that this is another step in a series of concrete plans which the Ministry for Tourism is undertaking to invest in human capital. “As it stands, tourism employment and its development is a fundamental issue from a socio-economic perspective. It is also a fundamental issue from the hospitality perspective, since employees in tourism represent what constitutes the front line with customers in what fundamentally remains an industry based on human interaction.”