In a recent column, I highlighted the challenges within the tourism workplace.

So are there solutions?

Yes, there are. Because tourism is a multidisciplinary industry with many industries and disciplines contributing to and benefiting from it, some form of cooperation would be a step in the right direction. Moving away from a myopic view of skills and recognising prior learning that has happened in other industries will be another step in the right direction from tourism employers’ side. This saves cost and time and opens up new career paths for workers.

Workers will usually be happy to engage in education and training, which leads to tangible (not token) employment. It would thus benefit any learning programme designer to do a skills audit to find out what specifically is needed in the employment opportunities at that destination.

A community, or at least its leaders, has to be fully informed about the possible positive and negative impacts of tourism and have to be equipped to handle both aspects. The developers and the affected community should jointly make personal and communal decisions about the developing and marketing of the destination if the development aims to be sustainable.

The three pillars of sustainable development, namely environmental integrity, societal justice and economic efficiency should be taken into account. If not introduced, developed and maintained correctly, tourism could be dangerous for the host community. Developers, local governments, employers and employees alike will have to understand sustainable development and maintenance of a destination by learning about sustainability. There are programmes available for immediate implementation in a community.

Tourism, community development and learning have a close relationship. The relationship is based on the following: the three components of sustainable tourism development: the environment, the society and economics. Wherever there is a potential tourist attraction the surrounding community should be involved in developing, manning and marketing this attraction.

Taking ownership of the tourism potential in their community will create employment opportunities for local people, but these locals will have to be equipped with knowledge and skills to meet the demands that will be placed on them. Often, however, the supply of equipped local workers does not meet the demand. A solution to this human resource need in the tourism industry in general, could be that whole communities adopt a culture of lifelong learning and allow and encourage this to thrive.  This needs a tourism workforce that will see the tourism industry as a career in which they will be able to follow a career path. It is only then that they will experience the need for learning and do something about it.