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The increasing need for leisure travel and the overwhelming tourism development in Nigeria has necessitated high level of human resource management in order to meet up with challenges facing the tourism industry. Of a truth, many tourism students graduates without clear understanding of the magnitude of career prospects awaiting them; while those still undergoing the programme are clouded with doubts about what the future holds
for them. This paper therefore seeks to address this problem. It examines the various programmes obtainable in Nigerian institutions of learning and the career prospects of tourism students in Nigeria.


Tourism is travel for recreational or leisure purposes, while a tourist is a person who travel to and stay in places outside his usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes and not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited. Tourism has become a popular global leisure activity with a record of over 903 million international tourist arrivals in 2007; and with a
growth of 6.6% as compared to 2006. Presently, international tourist receipts reached 856 billion in 2007 (WTO 2008).

Tourism as an industry is dynamic and competitive, and is recognized widely as one of the world’s largest growth industry. The constant development of new tourism products has led to an increased need for knowledge, flexibility and creativity. Information technology on the other hand has provided the consumer with tools to seek out special services and better value. As a result, the tourism industry continues to feed an ever-growing system of subsidiary services. Based on these, the need for well qualified and dedicated professionals to manage this rapidly growing industry is on the increase.
This paper is born out of the fact that there are gross inadequate trained personnel for tourism industry in Nigeria.

It is also sad to note that majority of the federal and state owned universities do not award degrees in the field, while some offer few courses in tourism, others have not met the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) required accreditation. However, the Nigeria Tourism Development Master Plan of 2006 is a clear evidence of the nation’s commitment to further develop her tourism industry. It should be noted that tourism is a multi-sectoral industry that cuts across other industries like hospitality, catering services, transportation, travel agencies/airline operators, etc.

Trained personnel are needed to manage these establishments for tourism development in Nigeria. Thus, there is a very bright future for graduates of tourism programme.
Tourism as a career is therefore designed to develop skills and give training to interested students to enable them handle tourism-related matters as well as to equip students for careers in Schools, Ministries, Tourism Institutions, Tourism Corporations and Boards, Hotels and related areas. This paper is also designed to respond to the need for tourism professional and prepare interested students at undergraduate level to enter the many businesses and organizations of this demanding industry. The course (tourism) is also aimed at integrating social, cultural, financial and ecological perspectives in other to help students develop a better understanding of the world around them.

Tourism: What It Is?

The definition of tourism has been the subject of long debate. Like any other concept, tourism is very difficult to define in absolute terms because of imprecise and/or inconsistency in the usage of the concept; thus, it became difficult to define in absolute terms. However, the complexity of tourism is best treated in a multi-disciplinary way, which include sociology, economics, anthropology, archaeology, geography, urban and regional planning, fine and applied arts, architecture, etc The word tour is derived from Latin ‘tornare’ and the Greek ‘tornos’, meaning a movement around a central point or axis. This meaning changed in modern English to represent ‘one’s turn’. The suffix – ism is defined as an action or process; typical behaviour or quality; whereas the suffix – ist denotes one that performs a given action (Theobald 2005). When the word tour and the suffixes – ism and ist are combined, they suggest the action of movement around a circle. One can argue that a circle represents a starting point, which ultimately returns back to its beginning. Therefore, like a circle, a tour represents a journey that is a round trip, i.e. the act of leaving and then returning to the original starting point and therefore, one who takes such a journey can be called a tourist (Theobald 2005).


Okpoko and Okpoko (2002) regarded tourism simply as any temporary movement of people, either individually or in groups, from one place to another for specific ‘tourism’ purposes of pleasure, health, meetings or business; and for a period of not less than twenty-four hours. World Tourism Organization (WTO) defined tourism as the movement of people to and stay in places outside their usual home for at least twenty-four hours but not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to any form of employment from within the place visited (cf. Okpoko, et. al. 2008). For Ward, et. al. (1993) tourism involve movement from a place of residence to a destination for a fixed period of time, returning home at the end of it.
They went further to explain that visitors arriving at a destination in order to seek work or find permanent accommodation are not regarded as tourists. Tourism is also viewed as a field of research on human and business activities associated with one or more aspects of the temporary movement of people away from their immediate home communities and daily work environments for business, pleasure and personal reasons (Chadwick 1994).

 There are three types of tourism that can be identified when using geographical movement, these include (1) Domestic Tourism, which involves the movement of tourist within their country for tourism purposes such as leisure, business, visiting friends and relations (VFR), culture, health purposes, etc. (2) Regional Tourism, which is a movement of tourists within a given sub-region for tourism purposes listed above; and for a period of twenty-four hours and above, and (3) International Tourism, which involves movement of people from their country of origin/resident to another country for specific tourism purpose(s).

Apart from these, the intents and purpose of travel are often used to categorize tourism; thus, tourist who travel for cultural purpose could be referred to as cultural tourist/tourism, for the love of nature (eco-based tourism), for sport purpose (sport tourism), for religious purpose (faith/religious tourism) etc. Tourism industry is divided into five different sectors: accommodation, transportation, travel services, recreation and entertainment, and food and beverage services. The diversity of these five sectors shows that tourism is a multi-disciplinary course.

It is therefore pertinent to note that in the study of tourism, hospitality industry is very essential; thus, the knowledge of accommodation sector such as serviced and non-serviced accommodation becomes indispensable in tourism. This is more glaring in the definition of tourism, when it is defined as a movement of person(s) away from home for a period of not less than twenty-four hours… This is therefore, the reason why tourism students are often exposed to courses in hospitality management such as Introduction to Hospitality Industry, Tourism Accommodation and Services, Industry Study (a three to six month industrial attachment to any hospitality industry and travel agencies of their choice) etc.

Transportation is another veritable industry of which students of tourism are introduced to. In as much as tourism is the movement of persons…, such movement is either made by land, air or sea; thus, tourism students are further exposed to the various modes and forms of transport conveyance.
Apart from the above, tourists are often interested in a destination where there are clusters of attractions often referred to as ‘tourist domain’. This is the more reason why tourism as a discipline deals with tourism products and services, tourism marketing and shopping, tourism information technology, etc.

These are various ways in which tourism industry is further developed and promoted for potential tourists who would take the advantage of abundant tourism resources and good enabling environment to visit such areas for satisfaction of their individual interest. They are also intricate parts of tourism development and promotion embedded in recreation and entertainment, and food and beverage services. It is therefore important to state here that the description of tourism cannot be over-emphasized. Thus, its further description can take more space and time.




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