Journal Review: Rethinking Tourism Education: What Should Schools Teach?



Tourism, according to scholars, is considered the world’s largest industry in which its impacts influence the government, business, and academic fields. From the educational perspective, tourism is seen as the new field of study that emerged from vocational education. Historically, tourism education developed in Europe with technical/vocational school as the main focus, emphasizing the hospitality, hotel management, and business aspects. At the university level, the tourism curriculum was dominated in sharpening occupational skills such as in marketing, finance, management, and human resource resulting in students as an employable individual with knowledge, experience, and interpersonal skills. All those experiences and skills which were earned during school time created students as the ‘packaged certificate’ with a high employability rate. However, through the journal entitled Rethinking Tourism Education: What Should Schools Teach? we are invited to reflect on the overlooked perspective in tourism education, mainly the sociological and philosophical perspectives which should be addressed in curriculum development at the university level.

Tourism education in the present time, compared to the past has evolved with three offered programs, focusing on ‘generic degrees’, ‘functional degrees’, and ‘market/product based degrees’. Generic degrees serve a broad understanding of tourism and interdisciplinary skills. Functional degrees focus on particular areas of tourism such as marketing, information systems, or planning. Market/product based degrees concentrates on the development of a particular product or market, requiring expertise in the area. 

However, some of the tourism educators question those present perspectives on whether the primary purpose of tourism education solely for vocational or liberal reflective approaches should be addressed to enrich student’s critical thinking. Meaning that tourism education is caught in a dilemma of transferability between academia and industry. Therefore, Inui, Wheeler, & Samuel in this journal argue that there is a need for a sociological understanding of tourism education to develop humanistic values among tourism graduates, particularly in gender and philosophical perspective. 

In the gender context, researchers found that tourism is a gendered, engendered, sex-segregated, or sex-role stereotyped industry. For instance, in the study of Sirakaya and Sonmez (2000), in US tourism, it is found in brochures, women are depicted in traditional stereotypical roles in which the portrayal of women’s characteristics as feminine, dependent, and subordinate beings. This example shows that tourism plays a major role in constructing the cultural representation of women and men. Thus, if that structure of traditional feminine and masculine is constantly being renegotiated and recreated, tourism development will not sustain.

Another example, it could be observed that work in the tourism industry is often gender-specific. Occupations, such as flight attendants, receptionists, and room keepers are usually done by women since it relates to women’s characteristics in which caring. Meanwhile, occupations like porters, doorpersons, pilots, or drivers are dominated by men. Consequently, individuals have to bear social pressure when attempting to work beyond gender norms. As for the result, Inui, Wheeler, & Samuel consider that it’s educators’ responsibility to guide the students stepping out of the cultural and social norms to reflect on and gain insight from this issue. 

From the philosophical context, Tribe (2002) argues that tourism education should aim to implement liberal and vocational courses so that students can examine and question the social responsibilities of the tourism industry. Meaning that tourism education does not merely educate the student on the practice and application of the tourism industry, but there’s a need to educate the student about social justice as one of the goals of liberal education. The tourism education curriculum not only needs to go beyond vocational but also with a philosophical foundation so it enables the students with critical thinking of the future in the tourism industry. Moreover, the learning of a philosophical foundation in the tourism industry could develop self-awareness and motivation, imagination, and creativity. 

To conclude, Inui, Wheeler, & Samuel confirm that tourism educators must address sociological and philosophical perspectives in curriculum development at the university level. Furthermore, through this journal, two significant points that should be reflected. First, skilled individuals are important in the tourism industry, but the one who could be reflective as well as questioning and improving the common practice would be valuable for the development of sustainable tourism. Second, both academic and liberal perspectives in the tourism education curriculum would enrich and prepare students to be employable and critical individuals who are concerned with the social impact of tourism. 



Inui, Y., Wheeler, D., & S. L. (2006). Rethinking Tourism Education: What Should Schools Teach? Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport, and Tourism Education, 25-35.

Yuka Inui, Daniel Wheeler, and Samuel Lankford - January 2006 - DOI:10.3794/johlste.52.122



Artikel ini diterbitkan di laman | 13 November 2020