Travel Tales

If one goes by the IDFC`s India Infrastructure report 2012, shortage of trained manpower looms large over the tourism industry.

Many of you may love to pursue a career in the high growth tourism and hospitality industry. But are you industry ready? What is being done to bridge the skill gap? Gauri Rane and Prachi Rege investigate.

Did you know that the incremental skill gap in the tourism and hospitality industry would be 3.6 million by 2022? If one goes by the IDFC`s India Infrastructure report 2012 and other important documents, shortage of trained manpower, it seems, looms large over the tourism industry, one of the largest employers in the country. While efforts are on to address the situation, industry experts feel helpless as whatever is being does not seem enough.

“Take for instance the hospitality industry, which an integral part of tourism,” says Rajeev Gujral, senior advisor, Tata International Ltd, “The starred hotels or those approved by the Indian Tourism Ministry require 150, 000 trained persons per annum. As against this, the recognized hospitality schools deliver only 5000 professional.” Industry experts say that private institutions contribute another 45,000 graduates. “Still there is a shortfall of 100,000 persons every year,” laments Ashwini Kakkar, vice chairman, Mercury Travels.

Statistics gleaned from National Skills Development Corporation fix the number of professionals required by the tourism industry by 2022 at 1, 44,000. Accounts, group tours, and ticketing, which account for 55% of all the employees in this sector, are some of the key functions. Besides, close to 20% of employees in the sector tour are causal workers.

The gap is yawning if one goes by what the Results- Framework Document prepared for the Ministry of Tourism reveals. According to this, the ministry aims to receive over 11.4 million foreign and about 14.5 million domestic tourists by 2016. In response to this, large hotel chains are gearing up to add some 10,000 rooms within the next few years. International companies too are looking at opening at least 50 more hotels.

“Where do we get the talent from to take up this challenge,” industry experts ask. Besides, they point out, that the graduates that our institutions produce are not at all industry ready. Consequently, the companies have to spend a lot of money in retraining the candidates, which is a waste of time and resources.

Gujral, who is also the former Chairman, All India Board of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, holds the industry itself responsbile for the sorry state of affairs. “The training curriculum in India is not in sync with global practices,” he says. Kakkar adds, “Courses offered at Indian institutes often give importance to theory. Our students lack practical training.”

The quality issue probably is the reason why several institutions offering the travel and tourism diploma had to pull down shutters. The academia however, does not buy this reasoning. "We had to discontinue our advance diploma course in travel and tourism as it was difficult to get the right faculty,” explains Manju Nichani, principal KC College, Mumbai, which stopped offering the course six years ago. “Also, students preferred training academies started by travel companies," she adds.

Industry experts are of the opinion that employees need to be in tune with the market requirement. Alpana Banerjee, chief human resources officer, Kuoni Group, says that employability factor is dependent on exposure to practical knowledge. “Hiring trained manpower ensures perfect orientation and minimizes the time and costs involved in training,” she stresses.

Like the big chain of hotels, travel companies too are nurturing talent through extensive training and grooming programmes. (See Box). Take for instance the Management Development Programme (MDP) which Kuoni has started for its employes. “We`ve been conducting the customised 16 day MBA (Travel) programe for our staff, for the past eight years,” informs Banerjee. Kesari Travels too has started a nine month certificate course in travel and tourism keeping in mind the dearth of skilled professionals.

Here is the Planning Commission’s take: if you invest Rs.10 lakh it generates just 18 jobs in the manufacturing and 45 in the agriculture sectors. But the same investment creates 78 jobs in the tourism sector. An employment intensive area, the travel sector is expected to provide both direct & indirect employment to over 43 million by 2022. A glance at the staggering numbers is proof enough all the major stakeholders- the travel industry, Government and the academia- need to pull up their socks and join hands to face the challenges of 2022.

Top Tips

1. “Customer relations” is an important skill, build a good rapport and learn to be patient.

2. Cultivate good communication skills. This contributes to a successful operation of a tourism organisation.

3. Personal attributes like honesty, reliability, initiative, enthusiasm and confidence are important

4. It is essential to have product and destination knowledge.

5. Aspiring travel professionals must possess the ability to increase sales and also have IT capability .

6. Being a team player is equally essential.

7. Professionals in this industry should know the importance of constant innovation.

8. Ability to strategise effectively plays an important role.

9. Ability to handle complaints by the customers is an important quality.

10. Working towards a common goal of the organisation and being ambitious are essential.

- Rajeev Wagle, managing director, Kuoni India

Academia Insights

“Travel and tourism industry employs over 200 million people worldwide. I want to ensure that our graduates make the most of the promising career opportunities in this expanding industry.We have designed courses keeping in mind the skill sets that employers look for. In my opinion, the perceived ‘skill gap’ is due to specific job requirements. However, we train students to develop the right attitude for the job, excellent communication skills, willingness to learn and embrace a new work culture, which are critical for success. There has been a steady increase in the number of student signing up with us. Last year, we trained approximately 10,000 students from the South Asia region alone. Our courses are internationally recognized and the Foundation in Travel & Tourism course is the most popular programme. We have authorised training centres. We also offer the distance learning option for those who can`t attend lectures. Our certificate holders are readily absorbed by various sub industries associated with travel, tourism and hospitality industry.”

— Amitabh Khosla, country director, IATA Training & Development Institute (ITDI)


Institute Indicator

1) Kesari Travel Academy -

2) IATA Training & Development Institute (ITDI) –

3) Kuoni Academy -

4) Indian Institute of Travel and Tourism Management (IITTM) -

5) Centre of learning, Thomas Cook -

Diploma Programs at

  • HR College, Mumbai
  • St Joesph`s College, Bangalore
  • Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management, Bhubaneshwar
  • Christ University, Bangalore

    In addition the The Tourism Ministry through IITTM offers variouscertificate courses under the Capacity Building for Service provider Scheme (CBSPS). Log on to for more details.

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    Depending upon the educational qualification, skills and the designation, salaries can range from 10,000 to 25,000 for entry level personnel.