25, Oct 2023
ISH Leads the Dialogue on Innovative Educational Programmes At the UNWTO General Assembly

India, October 25th, 2023: Indian School of Hospitality (ISH), the preeminent institution in the field of hospitality education, is delighted to announce the participation of Mr Kunal Vasudeva, Co-Founder & Managing Director of ISH, as the keynote speaker at the esteemed UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) General Assembly.

Mr Vasudeva took the stage on October 19 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, to address the eminent gathering on the theme “Education, Investing in the Future” and also moderated a panel discussion on this substantial topic.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Vasudeva delivered an impactful keynote address, stating, “We have entered the experience economy, which is anticipated to evolve into an 8.2 trillion dollar behemoth; this isn’t a niche but a transformative force that shall alter the very DNA of our economy. It is no longer about unit economics but human economics! It’s no longer the software engineer, the lawyer, or the medical professional leading this charge. It is us — the individual trained in the art and science of hospitality.”

He also argued against the misconception that hospitality education is merely vocational training and emphasised the need for a significant shift in this perception. According to him, skills such as emotional intelligence, adaptability, and resource management are no longer optional but are pivotal to professionals in the 21st century.

Mr Vasudeva also advocated for unified action and public-private partnerships and shed light on the role of UNWTO in recognising the significance of quality education in sustainable tourism. Furthermore, he pointed out the need for a global approach to hospitality education and how a UNWTO-backed accreditation can become the gold standard.

He also stressed on the role of education in fostering ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) principles during his address and highlighted the endeavours of countries like the Maldives, New Zealand, and Costa Rica, which have successfully integrated sustainability into their tourism industry, and underlined the need for more nations to follow suit.

He also pointed out that adopting ESG principles can lead to significant financial benefits, and therefore, called for their global adoption.

At the end of the keynote, Mr Vasudeva shared a real-life example of Rahul, a hospitality graduate from India who implemented sustainable practices in his family resort. His practical approach made him an authority in policy-making circles while scaling his business. Rahul’s initiative solidified the role of hospitality education in promoting sustainability and equality.

Mr Vasudeva left the audience with the choice between embracing and leading the changes in the experience economy and also mentioned that re-evaluation and re-invention of hospitality education isn’t a matter of choice but a strategic imperative.

The 25th session of the UNWTO General Assembly incorporated a vibrant Global Forum on Education, emphasising the pivotal role of education in shaping the future of the tourism industry. This esteemed event brought together high-level ministers, thought leaders and renowned experts from around the globe to explore out-of-the-box approaches to tourism education and its significant impact on the sector.

Amid the panel discussion moderated by Mr Vasudeva, the esteemed participants delved into the substantial topic of “Unlocking Horizons: Tourism as a Must-Have Subject in Education and Youth Perspectives,” while also unveiling the UNWTO Education Toolkit. The toolkit was recognised as a valuable resource to enhance tourism education worldwide.

The eminent panellists involved in the thought-provoking discussion included-:

• Ms Alisha Gulden, Senior Vice President of Sales, National Restaurant Association (NRA), American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI)

• Ms Sue Moffat, Head of Humanities and Social Sciences Portfolio, Cambridge Assessment International Education (Cambridge International)

• Ms Zukhro Bakhromkulova, student of “Silk Road” International University of Tourism and Cultural Heritage

• Prof. Urs Wagenseil, Professor & Head of Touris at Institute of Tourism, Lucerne University of applied Sciences & Arts

The panel highlighted the significance of providing real-world exposure to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the intricacies of the hospitality industry. This hands-on approach is considered crucial for ensuring that graduates are job-ready and able to make valuable contributions from their very first day on the job.

The panellists also acknowledged that the tourism sector is dynamic and rapidly changing and educational programs need to adapt and evolve to stay relevant.

The gathering unanimously agreed that the curriculum should be designed with a clear focus on fostering responsible and sustainable tourism, ensuring that students are empowered to protect the culture and the environment. This proactive approach helps prepare students for careers that align with global sustainability goals.

Furthermore, the panel also discussed the flexibility of syllabuses and underscored the importance of allowing teachers to incorporate new initiatives and innovative approaches into their courses. This adaptability ensures that education remains aligned with the latest industry trends and emerging technologies.

Mr Vasudeva also had a significant interaction with the Indian Ministerial delegation at the event including Ms Manisha Saxena, IAS, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and Mr Roshan MammarappallilThomas, Director, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India (Overseas Marketing, International Cooperation, IT Division).

The discussion encompassed crucial issues related to India’s tourism sector and the role of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in creating a conducive environment for sustainable tourism and technology integration.

The UNWTO General Assembly convenes every two years and brings together influential representatives from the organisation’s member states and accomplished figures from the global tourism sector. The remarkable platform is recognised for fostering extensive discussions, knowledge sharing, and the creation of strategies to promote sustainable tourism across the globe.

It is considered one of the most influential meetings of global tourism officials and notable representatives of the private sector.

Some of the key highlights of the Global Forum on Education included-:

High-Level ministerial debate on policies to foster innovation & education for current and future generations: The insightful debate witnessed the convergence of tourism ministers from pioneering nations in tourism education.

The head honchos delved deeper into the formulation of innovative policies and effective instruments to bolster innovation and education for present and future generations in the tourism sector. The gathering also focussed on strengthening global partnerships to support inclusive and sustainable tourism development.

Keynote address on education, investing in the future: The inspiring address explored the considerable opportunities and challenges associated with investing in education. The speaker shed light on the significance of dedicating resources, especially to education in tourism.

Unlocking horizons: Tourism as a must-have subject in education and youth perspectives – presentation of the UNWTO Education Toolkit: The session included a lively fireside chat featuring the unveiling of the UNWTO education toolkit. A panel comprising education partners and academic representatives underscored the importance of integrating tourism studies into secondary education. It also shared inspirational stories and experiences showcasing the transformative potential of education.

Launch of the tourism academy in Uzbekistan: A striking presentation demonstrated the commitment of Uzbekistan to support tourism education and its collaboration with UNWTO via the launch of the Tourism Academy.

Awards Ceremony: UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the creation and dissemination of knowledge in tourism: The occasion celebrated the incredible career of the 16th Ulysses Prize laureate, recognising individuals, organisations, or institutions that have made outstanding contributions to the creation and dissemination of knowledge in the field of tourism.

The prestigious award fosters innovation, research, and expertise sharing to promote the tourism sector and nurture sustainable development.

Closing remarks & signing ceremony: The Global Forum on Education reached its conclusion with closing remarks and a symbolic signing ceremony. The ceremony highlighted a resolute commitment to elevating tourism education to new heights across the globe.

The assembly also acknowledged the essential role played by hospitality and education in shaping the global economy and charting the course for the future of tourism.

Sharing his delight at the participation of the Indian School of Hospitality at the UNWTO General Assembly, Mr Kunal Vasudeva said, “I am deeply honoured to be part of the UNWTO General Assembly as a keynote speaker. In a sector characterised by constant transformation, innovative educational programmes are vital for fostering sustainable progress. Our objective is to inspire change and underscore the critical role of education in nurturing the next generation of hospitality leaders and change agents. This momentous occasion also highlights ISH’s commitment to delivering exceptional hospitality education and making a lasting impact on the industry.”

As part of Sommet Education’s global network, ISH has carved a distinctive reputation in hospitality education, nurturing highly proficient industry professionals. This unparalleled legacy of excellence demonstrates the significant impact which the institution is making in shaping the future of the hospitality sector.

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