Climate change and the credit crisis both have an impact on tourism. From 1 September, students will be able to study that impact on the new BSc in Tourism, offered jointly by Wageningen University and the NHTV international university of applied sciences in Breda.
The new Tourism programme is unique on three counts. It is the first academic Bachelor's programme in the Netherlands to focus exclusively on tourism. It is the first entirely English-language BSc programme at Wageningen University. And it is exceptional internationally. 'Most tourism programmes are run by business schools and focus on the economics of the tourist trade. In Wageningen we approach tourism from the environmental sciences angle. This makes the new programme unique,' declares the programme director Jan Philipsen.
Philipsen stresses that the new Bachelor's does not focus exclusively on ecotourism though. 'The students will study all the forms of tourism, from the traditional 'slash & burn' approach to the more self-critical ones. Of course there are scientists who feel that tourism is 'not done', and there are some in Wageningen too. But the programme does not have an axe to grind.'
There are big developments going on in tourism. 'When the climate changes, so do the movements of tourists. And if people earn less or retire later, that has an enormous impact too. That is why now, more than ever, the tourism sector needs people who can think ahead', says Philipsen. He is also responsible for the Master's in Leisure, Tourism and Environment.
The NHTV international university of applied sciences in Breda runs several applied sciences degree programmes in the field of tourism. Some of these students are interested in greater academic depth. Market research has shown, too, than four percent of High School students see the new academic Bachelor's as a serious option. But considering registration only opened last week, Philipsen will be happy if there are 25 students at the end of August. The students will do their first two years in Breda and their third year in Wageningen. At the NHTV they will acquire a knowledge of the social and economic aspects of tourism, and Wageningen will contribute knowledge from the environmental sciences and add academic depth to their social and economic studies. The idea is for the Bachelor's to supply Dutch students for the MSc in Leisure, Tourism and Environment, which currently mainly attracts students from African, Asia and Latin America.
Graduates from the programme will usually be destined for strategic management posts, for example in government or in major travel agencies, says Philipsen. 'Our graduates will take the tourism sector one step further in dealing with things like the financial crisis, the climate crisis and the global political crisis. For example, when a bomb goes off at a foreign embassy in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, tourism there collapses for a couple of years. So in some regions you may ask whether it's such a great idea to put all your eggs in the tourism basket.'