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On the move

A rapid increase in tourist traffic, both domestic and international, means a corresponding increase in travel-related jobs. These jobs cover various areas of the travel industry ? travel agencies, tour operators, holiday consultants, hotels, guides, airlines and banking.

india Updated: Sep 04, 2006 00:40 IST

A rapid increase in tourist traffic, both domestic and international, means a corresponding increase in travel-related jobs. These jobs cover various areas of the travel industry – travel agencies, tour operators, holiday consultants, hotels, guides, airlines and banking.

A common thread binds these areas – when working in the travel industry, your job revolves around people. You deal directly with people, essentially providing services for people away from home, whether on business or holiday.

As the industry grows in size, you need to prepare well to join this sector. A degree or a diploma from an established travel institute can take you a long way.

Tourism courses
Various institutes conduct various travel and tourism programmes. The short-term courses are open to students after they complete Class 12, but the longer ones are meant for graduates or those pursuing graduation.

There is a four-month programme known as the IATA-UFTAA diploma. This programme is like a foundation course and it prepares students to join an airline or a travel agency. This basic course provides a broad understanding of travel agency and airline operation. It equips students to work at the counter, handling ticketing or making travel arrangements for clients.

It enables students to give information to clients, make appropriate reservations and arrangements and calculate airfares. Institutes also offer a two-year professional diploma in airline and tourism management. After completing this course, you start as a counter staff too, but you rise fast in the industry.

This is because an advanced or integrated diploma course teaches you the techniques of organising business and leisure tours, the dynamics of marketing tours, the intricacies of customer care and human resource management as well as how to handle international ticketing and the computer reservation system.

You can also go in for a PG diploma (one-year) or do an MBA in tourism (two years). After completing the PG diploma, you start as an executive trainee in an airline or a travel agency and after completing an MBA course, you start as a management trainee.
 
Career options
There are several sectors you can work in. Some popular ones are: Travel Agencies: They provide travel-related information to business and leisure travellers. Travel agencies consist of four departments – accounts (handles billing), tours (organises package tours), travel (provides information about routes and costs) and cargo (deals with booking and recovery of cargo).

Airlines: This sector needs ground staff such as traffic assistants, reservation and counter personnel, sales and marketing professionals.

Tourism departments: The central and state tourism departments require reservation and counter staff, sales and marketing personnel, tour planners and guides, and information assistants who provide information regarding destinations and plan schedules.

Hotels: All big hotels have travel desks that help guests plan tours both within the city and outside.

Tour operators: These individuals or companies organise tours for their clients. They need people to make travel arrangements, including accommodation, for their clients.

Corporate sector: Big companies employ representatives of travel agencies or other individuals to make travel arrangements for their functions such as conferences.

Holiday consultants: These professionals provide travel-related information to their clients. Sometimes, big companies also appoint holiday consultants to help them plan incentive holidays for their employees.

Banks: They require people to assist tourists regarding foreign exchange.

Road transport: Coaches and taxis offer avenues for self-employment.

Salaries
Salaries depend on the size of the city you work in as well as on the size of the organisation you join. Salaries also depend on the course you do. Starting salaries for ticketing and counter staff are between Rs 5,000-7,000. For tourism personnel, starting salaries in big airlines and travel agencies are in the range of Rs 8,000-12,000 per month.  

Career path
1  Your career path can be varied. For instance, you can start as a counter staff in an airline, move to a big travel agency where you can be in the corporate sales department, get promoted as the sales manager, shift to a big tour operator as a regional manager and then start your own tour operating agency.

2  Depending upon your personal attributes and your ability to learn on the job, you can start your own enterprise within 8-10 years.

3  You can also continue to work as a senior manager in a travel agency or an airline.