Talking Point: Introducing young people to tourism through GTTP


GTTP students outside a Starwood Le Meridien property. Photo: GTTP

In our latest Talking Point on the theme of engagement, we talk to Claire Steiner and Nancy Needham from GTTP and Starwood Hotels & Resorts about the importance of engaging young people in the tourism sector.

The Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP) is an industry philanthropic initiative to foster future talent and tackle the global skills shortage. The GTTP educates secondary school students about careers in Travel & Tourism at a time when they are making career and education choices. The GTTP works in 12 countries in Europe, Africa, East Asia, and North and South America. It serves some 450,000 students in more than 5,600 schools.

1. Can you summarize for me the aims GTTP?

We reach young people before they leave their secondary schools, when they - and their parents - are starting to think about careers. We want them to know that Travel & Tourism offers many, many opportunities for bright, motivated people. Many of them do not realize this. We want to reach them before they decide they want to be in financial services or consulting or any of the other options available to bright young people – the kind of people our industry needs.

2.What has GTTP found to be the most effective way of engaging young people?

We offer a mix of activities, some in the classroom, some outside, and in close collaboration with our business partners. We structure our program so that students become familiar with the sector while participating in activities designed to develop workforce-ready skills, attitudes and information.

3. Why is it important to introduce young people to the sector?

Young people don’t know that the sector offers such a wide variety of career paths and opportunities. Their parents don’t know either. So GTTP is a way to show just how varied the sector is and how their skills and interests could find a fit within the sector. Young people make career choices according to what they know about, and like, so it is important that they know, early on, about Travel & Tourism and all the professional skills that the sector uses.

4. What is the value of investing in education, rather than starting at the work experience level.

Many members of the Travel & Tourism industry do a thoughtful job of training people and moving them along. What also is needed is making sure that that they are meeting the good prospects who otherwise might not be interested. This is especially true in countries where a university degree is out of reach of most young people, including the ambitious, energetic ones with brains and good attitudes. The ones we need. So it’s not “either or”, it’s a question of investing at both levels.

5. What is are the benefits of businesses getting involved with GTTP?

What better way is there of becoming visible to young people whose ambitions are just starting to be defined? The local representatives of our global partners tell us that they not only find it a useful way to promote their companies’ visibility with leaders in government and business, but they also enjoy interacting with our students –the future talent pool for their companies.

6. How does GTTP measure the impact of their work?

We have grown rapidly since 1996 when we had 36,000 students. Currently we serve over 440,000 students annually, and have served 1.7 million since 1996. Education ministries ask us to become involved with their public schools. So clearly there is a demand for what we do and how we do it. Starwood is helping us develop our technical capacity to assess what our students are learning, their level of interest in our industry, and our ability to track what these men and women have done with their lives after secondary school. It’s very exciting, not to mention useful.

7. What has Starwood's involvement been in GTTP and why is it important to them? ​

Starwood are a Global Partner of GTTP and as such are represented on the Global Advisory Board along with senior leaders from our other Global Partners.  Supporting the GTTP provides an opportunity for these companies to give back to the local communities in which they operate.   They help ensure that the GTTP curriculum is current and up to date, providing real time industry information and, very importantly, helping ensure that all GTTP students are learning those skills that will help them further their education and subsequent careers in Travel and Tourism.

Students are provided with first-hand information and contact with some of the biggest global travel and tourism companies and at the same time, these companies are helping address the skills shortage facing our sector.  Many of our Global Partners, including Starwood, also help at a local level providing things like classroom volunteers and opportunities for teachers and students to visit a workplace.  Everybody benefits!

For more about GTTP visit or click here for more articles about Starwood and/ or Community, Communication and Engagement on Green Hotelier.

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