When people are young, they sometimes make the wrong educational choices—and it can take years to get back on the right path.
Stefanie Carlson, a third-year bachelor of tourism management student at Capilano University, knows all about that. A decade ago, she applied to attend the school, taking a year of general studies. She had a dream of working in tourism but decided instead to take a detour and go into the dental industry.
“Over those years, I was feeling unsatisfied and like I had made the wrong decision,” Carlson recently wrote in a testimonial for the Cap U program. “I was beginning to hate when Mondays rolled around.”
She had a choice: settle for what she was doing and continue making good money or pursue her dream. Carlson returned to school, determined to make a career change. And she’s thrilled to be back at Cap U, fulfilling her destiny.
“Although I wish I chose the tourism industry years ago, I believe my journey here has given me a greater sense of gratitude and appreciation for where I am now,” Carlson declared. “The instructors are great, the classes sizes are small, there are endless industry connections, the program is current to the tourism industry, and the class schedules are flexible so I can work while I’m in school. Not to mention, the campus is beautiful as it is set in the middle of a rainforest, adorned with pieces of First Nations art.”
The chair of the tourism management program, Stephanie Wells, told the Straight by phone that the B.C. Council on Admissions and Transfer enables students with postsecondary education to transfer credits from one institution to another. It means that people with a two-year diploma in tourism can use these credits to ladder up to obtaining a degree at Cap U.
Moreover, she said, this can be done full-time by taking five courses per semester or on a part-time basis. Students who take a minimum of three courses are eligible for student loans.
“For our degree, we have courses in marketing, human resources, and the usual types of business courses,” Wells said. “Then we have programs or courses that are specific to our industry.”
The Cap U bachelor of tourism management program has two areas of concentration. Hotel and resource management offers an understanding of the nuances of revenue management, finance, and convention services. The concentration in adventure tourism elevates students’ understanding of sport management, ecotourism, and land use.
“Those are discipline-specific courses that will give the students what they need,” Wells said.
Some grads have launched their own businesses, whereas others are working in a wide range of occupations for resorts, governments, hotel chains, travel companies, and other employers. One grad teaches tourism at Hanoi Open University. Another is general manager of an ecotourism company in Whistler. Yet another is the director of sales and marketing at one of B.C.’s best known seaside resorts and conference centres.
“It is one of the largest industries within British Columbia,” Wells said.
In 2016, B.C. tourism revenue reached $17 billion, according to Destination British Columbia, which was up 7.9 percent from the previous year. International-visitor expenditures rose 18 percent over the previous year.
Cap U tourism-management students participate in case competitions offered by go2HR, which provides workforce information to tourism employers. Wells also highlighted the networking opportunities that come through two tourism-student associations that are active on campus.
The Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Student Association connects new students with campus activities and works with Landsea Tours on a charitable initiative called Stuff the Bus. The Pacific Asia Travel Association’s campus chapter educates students on emerging industry issues such as elephant tourism, measuring gross national happiness, and the impact that bitcoins may have on travel.
It’s the only bachelor of tourism program in the region. The school will host an information night at Cap U’s North Shore campus in Room 321 of the Library Building at 7 p.m. on April 4.