Challenges and constraints of hospitality and tourism by ywl11741


									Challenges and constraints of hospitality and tourism
education in China

                                     Terry Lam
                                     Senior Lecturer, Department of Hotel & Tourism Management, The Hong Kong
                                     Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
                                     Honggen Xiao
                                     Department of Tourism, Huaqiao University, Quanzhou, Fujian, China

Keywords                                                                                                       Education made by the Central Committee of
Education, Tourism, China,             Introduction                                                            the Chinese Communist Party on 27 May
Career development, Curriculum,
Training                             With the rapid economic development in                                    1985, which spells out the importance of
                                     China since the introduction of the economic                              preparing professionals or experts by the
Abstract                             reform policy by Deng Xiao-ping in 1978, the                              tens of millions (Yuan Qi, 1988). Tables I and
Tourism education in China plays                                                                               II show the number and distribution of
                                     influx of international tourists and
an important role of supporting
                                     businessmen into this untapped market has                                 tourism schools and colleges. It is found that
tourism development and ensuring
the continuous supply of quality     increased significantly in the last 20 years. It                          the development of tourism education in
human resources to meet the          is anticipated that the growth will continue,                             China is consistent with the industry growth
overwhelming industry
                                     in particular, when China is expected to join                             and the labour demand of the region.
requirements. This paper presents
a comprehensive review of current    the World Trade Organisation in 2000.
tourism education in China in        Tourism will become a dominant tertiary
terms of the various educational     industry in China that has been guaranteed                                 Attitude of tourism employers
programs. The attitude of tourism
                                     in the Ninth Five-Year Plan for National                                  towards human resources
employers towards human
resource development was also        Economy, Social Development and                                           development
assessed. The results indicate       Prospective and that target for 2010 was                                  Although the industry people consider that
that a big gap exists between        passed at the 14th Communist Party of China                               the hardware contexts of hotels, restaurants,
supply and demand for quality
                                     National Committee.                                                       airports and transportation facilities have
personnel, as the tourism industry
is growing rapidly in China. A key      Given the rise of tourism ventures, tourism                            generally attained international standards,
dilemma of tourism education in      education in China has been developed                                     the software contexts in terms of employees'
China is poor curriculum design.     rapidly. It began in 1978 when Nanjing                                    service attitude, skill levels, and language
Graduates from tourism education
                                     Tourism School was first established and                                  ability still fall short of those expected by
institutes and vocational training
schools cannot fulfill industry      Shanghai Tourism College the year after                                   international travellers. The employers feel
needs and demands in terms of        (Tao, 1997). According to Chinese                                         that the poor quality of service providers in
quality and quantity. A number of    government statistics, there were only 27                                 China is due to lack of visionary education
education reforms are discussed
                                     universities and colleges offering hospitality                            and training plans provided by the
regarding curricula design,
scholars' and educators'             and tourism programs with 4,800 students in                               government. The supply of labour force from
qualifications and knowledge, and    1986, and the number has increased to 69 with                             existing tourism institutions and vocational
standardisation of tourism           8,551 students in 1989. The number continues                              training schools cannot fulfill the expanding
education practices in China.                                                                                  needs for high quality service providers. By
                                     to grow. In 1998, 936 tourism schools and
                                     colleges existed, of which 192 were higher                                and large, tourism employers consider that
                                     educational institutes of tourism with 29,566                             human resource problems are crucial, and
                                     students. Among the higher educational                                    that they are not healthy for tourism
                                     institutes of tourism, 81 offer degree                                    development in China. The problems can be
                                     programs, representing 42.2 per cent. It was                              summarised as follows:
                                     estimated that 45.5 per cent of the students                              1 The general international service ethic as
                                     study for bachelor's or Master's degrees in                                  expected by foreign operators, and
                                     tourism and 54.5 per cent for the two- or                                    comprehended by international visitors,
                                     three-year diploma or certificate. On the                                    rarely exists among Chinese employees in
                                     other hand, vocational training schools at                                   the tourism industry. The legacy of the
                                     secondary school level have increased in                                     Cultural Revolution has created an
                                     numbers and become popular after a                                           environment where the concept of
International Journal of
Contemporary Hospitality             resolution on Institutional Reform of                                        ``service'' was foreign to most employees,
Management                                                                                                        regardless of their status or level of
12/5 [2000] 291±295                                                                                               employment (Huyton and Sutton, 1996).
                                     The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
# MCB University Press                                                                                            Conceptually, the employees can only
[ISSN 0959-6119]           
                                                                                                                  subjectively see the importance of
                                                                                                                                                      [ 291 ]
Terry Lam and                       tangible products provided for their                       3 New recruits have high intentions to quit
Honggen Xiao                        customers, but not the intangible added-                     the job or leave the tourism industry
Challenges and constraints of
hospitality and tourism             value service delivered during each                          when they find that the salary package of
education in China                  interaction between customers/guests                         the industry is not as competitive as
International Journal of            and employees.                                               others, and the pressure or the stress at
Contemporary Hospitality          2 The higher education institutions and                        work is unexpectedly high. It appears that
12/5 [2000] 291±295                 vocational training schools of tourism                       hotel schools cannot provide realistic
                                    continuously develop pools of tourism                        information for students so that, when the
                                    graduates every year to meet the                             graduates join the industry, they are
                                    overwhelming demand by the expanding                         likely to encounter reality shock about the
                                    industry. Unfortunately, few graduates                       nature of the job, work conditions, and
                                    are dedicated to the industry and                            human relations.
                                    committed to their jobs. Industry                          4 Education institutes and vocational
                                    managers comment that young tourism                          training schools of tourism nurture
                                    graduates seem to have unrealistic career                    graduates with operational concepts and
                                    expectations. For example, they expect to                    knowledge without paying much
                                    get promotion from operative to                              attention to skill development. Practical
                                    managerial levels within two to three                        training is not sufficiently provided for
                                    years in the hotel industry.                                 students during their study. Zhou (1991)
                                                                                                 states that because of the limited
                                                                                                 experience of most of the faculty and
                                  Table I                                                        limited lab facilities, the curriculum in
                                  Number of tourism schools and colleges in                      institutes of higher learning generally
                                  China (1993-1998)                                              places more emphasis on classroom
                                                     Number of            Number of              instruction and de-emphasises skill
                                                    institutes of         secondary              development. Thus students have
                                                       higher            profession/             virtually no laboratory experience prior
                                  Year   Total       education        vocational schools         to entering the industry as an intern.
                                  1993    354           102                    252               Fresh graduates have to learn the skills
                                  1994    399           109                    290               from scratch and are unproductive
                                  1995    622           138                    484               during their early stage of employment.
                                  1996    845           166                    679               The learning time can be shortened if
                                  1997    936           192                    744               students are provided with intensive
                                  1998    909           187                    722               internship programs in the industry to
                                                                                                 gain hands-on practical experience.
                                  Source: CNTA, Yearbooks of China Tourism Statistics,
                                                                                               5 The teaching materials are outdated.
                                                                                                 Textbooks are usually written and

Table II
Major statistics of tourism schools and colleges 1998
                             Number of tourism schools and colleges                         Number of students at tourism schools and colleges
                                 Institutes of     Secondary                                           Institutes of     Secondary
                                    higher        professional    Vocational                              higher        professional   Vocational
Locality               Total      education         schools         schools                Total        education         schools        schools
Total                   936              192             87              657           221,504           28,566          26,912         166,026
North China              96               20              5               71            39,080            4,013           2,264          32,803
Northeast China          63               21              4               38            22,235            2,704             669          18,832
East China              381               50             30              301            85,464            8,415           7,901          69,688
Central China           116               32             20               64            21,866            3,968           6,218          11,680
South China             149               22              4              123            27,132            3,340           3,626          20,166
Southwest China          87               31             14               42            15,957            4,066           3,653           8,238
Northwest China          44               16             10               18             9,770            2,060           2,551           5,159
Notes: Tourism institutes include tourism colleges and ordinary institutes of higher education with tourism departments.
Vocational schools include vocational high schools and tourism classes at ordinary vocational high schools and technical schools.
Statistics in this Table are presented on the basis of China's administrative and economic regionalisation. North China includes Beijing, Tianjin,
Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia; Northeast China consists of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang; East China covers Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui and
Shandong; Central China is composed of Jiangxi, Henan, Hubei and Hunan; South China includes Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan;
Southwest China covers Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan and Tibet; and Northwest China includes Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia and
Source: CNTA, 1998

[ 292 ]
Terry Lam and                      published by faculty members.                 programs. Run jointly with tourism and
Honggen Xiao                       Unfortunately, most textbooks are simply      hospitality enterprises, the programs are
Challenges and constraints of
hospitality and tourism            translated from foreign texts without         usually shorter in duration and more flexible
education in China                 taking Chinese cultures, values and           to cater for the needs of the industry.
International Journal of           contemporary issues into consideration.       Vocational and technical schools serve the
Contemporary Hospitality           Knowledge gained by students may not be       purposes of pre-employment training and
12/5 [2000] 291±295                applicable to China's situation.              help develop skilled or semi-skilled front line
                                                                                 workers for their co-operative enterprises.
                                                                                 The functions of these vocational schools are
                                 Tourism programs                                similar to those in Hong Kong. The students
                                                                                 receive three- to 12-month off-the-job training
                                The first hospitality educational institution
                                                                                 in the classroom as well as on-the-job
                                of its kind was the Jiangsu Provincial
                                                                                 internship at enterprises in the related
                                Tourism School, which was set up in Yixing
                                                                                 industry. These students are usually
                                in 1978. The first institution of higher
                                                                                 competent and skilful in operations when
                                education in tourism and hospitality was
                                                                                 they graduate.
                                established in Shanghai in 1979 and is known
                                as The Shanghai Institute of Tourism. The
                                rapid tourism development in China since
                                the 1980s has forced the Chinese government
                                                                                  Development constraints of
                                to redefine its tourism education policy at
                                                                                 tourism education
                                both higher education institutes and             Although China's tourism education has
                                vocational and technical training schools.       been developed for 20 years, there exists a big
                                  Among the 192 higher educational               gap between supply and demand for quality
                                institutes in tourism, 19 offer a Master's       managers, supervisors and operative staff as
                                degree in tourism/hospitality management.        a result of the rapid growth of the tourism
                                So far, no universities offer doctoral degree    industry. It appears that the current tourism
                                programs in tourism management in China.         education system emphasises the supply of a
                                Doctoral degrees in tourism have to be           labour force to meet the industry's needs, but
                                studied with overseas hotel schools.             less attention is given to the development of
                                  For the Bachelor Degree, Diploma or other      quality human resources for this service
                                certificate education programs in tourism,       industry. It is considered that quality
                                there are various programs provided that         employees can help organizations to meet
                                primarily cover four areas: first, language      their customers' expectations and their
                                programs with a strong service orientation;      satisfaction (Evans and Lindsay, 1999;
                                second, economics and management                 Zeithaml et al., 1990). The development
                                programs such as tourism management,             constraints of tourism education in China
                                hotel management, tourism economics, and         can be summarised as follows:
                                tourism finance; third, educators' training      1 The hierarchy of tourism education and
                                programs which aim at developing quality            training does not correspond to the
                                tourism teachers for vocational and technical       tourism career path which is specified by
                                schools of tourism; and fourth, skill-oriented      individual needs of tourism students or
                                programs which have become part of the              trainees and the general demand of the
                                national plan for higher occupational               industry (Jiang, 1998).
                                education. This national plan started in         2 Most degree programs of tourism
                                September 1999. The course programs                 education are dominated by non-tourism-
                                include various areas of study such as hotel        related disciplines, such as geography,
                                service and operations, tour service and            business administration, social sciences,
                                operations, food preparation and cuisine,           foreign languages and other humanities
                                tourism sales and promotion, and food and           disciplines. It may indicate that the scope
                                beverage service and operations.                    of tourism education programs is limited
                                  Vocational and technical training in              and that they cannot meet the
                                tourism takes various forms in China,               sophisticated and specific requirements of
                                including high vocational school, tourism           the industry.
                                skill training school and tourism vocational     3 The curricula in tourism education are
                                technical school. The National Education            not developed effectively. Curriculum
                                Ministry is responsible for the development         design is constrained by the education
                                and management of national vocational               laws. Most of the current tourism
                                education in tourism. The Ministry of               programs are out-of-date and are not able
                                Labour and some bureaux such as China               to develop competent and knowledgeable
                                National Tourism Administration (CNTA)              personnel to meet the industry needs.
                                are also involved in running some of the            Some tourism-related subjects such as
                                                                                                                         [ 293 ]
Terry Lam and                       management of tourist attractions, hotel
Honggen Xiao                        facility planning, strategic human
                                                                                    Education reform and future
Challenges and constraints of
                                    resource management, employee relations
hospitality and tourism
education in China                  and service management are not found in        It is crucial for the Chinese government to
International Journal of            the programs.                                  focus efforts and investment on the
Contemporary Hospitality        4   The curricula of tourism education do not      improvement of the existing education
Management                                                                         institutions of tourism. Education reforms
12/5 [2000] 291±295                 emphasise internship, which is
                                    considered important by foreign tourism        are necessary and demand-oriented. They
                                    educators. In Hong Kong, hotel and             should focus primarily on tourism education
                                    tourism students are compulsorily              and training needs in parallel with the rapid
                                    required to undergo a certain period of        development of the industry and help develop
                                    practical training in at least one area such   and improve the quality human resources for
                                                                                   the industry and have a long-term
                                    as hotels, travel agencies, fast food and
                                                                                   implication for the tourism education
                                    catering organizations, private clubs and
                                                                                   development in China.
                                    airlines during their three-year study. At
                                                                                      China had a series of reforms implemented
                                    present, tourism students in China do not
                                                                                   in 1999. For example, The National Education
                                    have much hands-on experience and
                                                                                   Ministry simplified the structural contexts
                                    realistic evaluation of actual working         by reducing the original catalogue of 543
                                    experience. As a result, tourism graduates     secondary disciplines to 249. In addition, the
                                    are handicapped by a lack of technical         higher occupational education program in
                                    skills and workplace experience. They are      tourism was implemented in September 1999.
                                    likely to encounter reality shock when         The reforms of tourism education cover the
                                    they join the industry after graduation.       following areas:
                                5   China's tourism education has a strong         1 National education policies and standard
                                    emphasis upon international tourism and            guidelines are set to unify tourism
                                    service, while domestic tourism, leisure,          education practices across the country.
                                    and leisure-related studies are rarely             The new policies and guidelines require
                                    included in the scope of tourism education         tourism education institutes and
                                    programs.                                          vocational training schools to review
                                6   Though the development of higher                   their existing education programs so that
                                    education in tourism is rapid,                     the latter should be commensurate with
                                    professional and vocational schools still          the standardised requirements. All
                                    play a dominant role, accounting for 80            program structures, contexts and
                                    per cent of tourism education in China.            contents, teaching equipment and
                                    Moreover, the hierarchical link between            facilities, educators' background,
                                    tourism education and training has not             textbooks and student learning
                                    been established in accordance with the            assessment have been defined for the
                                    individual needs and industry demand.              design of curricula. The prescription of
                                7   Many authorities are found to be involved          core fundamental courses aims not only at
                                    in the development of tourism education            developing students in a broader
                                    programs. For example, CNTA plays a                disciplinary context which is the general
                                    more dominant role in fostering the                direction of China's educational reform,
                                                                                       but also, and more practically or
                                    tourism education development than the
                                                                                       operationally, at guiding the actual
                                    China National Education Ministry. As a
                                                                                       curricula design of tourism management
                                    result, these central authorities may
                                                                                       as a secondary discipline.
                                    confuse the genuine tourism educators in
                                                                                   2 A new education model has been set that
                                    executing the policies.
                                                                                       aims to establish a linkage between
                                8   The Chinese government does not provide
                                                                                       education and training path and career
                                    much support to tourism institutions in
                                                                                       path. By building a hierarchical career
                                    terms of granting funds for research,              path into the curricula of tourism
                                    setting-up training facilities and                 education and training, the relationships,
                                    equipment, strategic plans for developing          functions and objectives at different levels
                                    quality local teachers or for inviting             of the course programs can be further
                                    renowned educators and professors from             distinguished. In addition, functional
                                    Hong Kong or abroad to share their                 distinctions and hierarchical links are
                                    expertise. In addition, the status of              also established between tourism
                                    tourism educators is low in China; hence           education and tourism training.
                                    tourism teachers are poorly paid. It is            Distinctions are set in curricula design
                                    difficult to attract good quality educators        regarding qualifications of educators and
                                    to join the education field.                       teachers, facilities and equipment,
[ 294 ]
Terry Lam and                     experimental foundations needed for the         customers, and will become more committed
Honggen Xiao                      course programs, and the knowledge and          to their employers when they find their
Challenges and constraints of     skill constructs of students and trainees.      knowledge and skills provided at school can
hospitality and tourism
education in China              3 In terms of tourism research, the               be applied immediately at work. On the other
International Journal of          methodologies adopted by Chinese scholars       hand, the employers in the industry will be
Contemporary Hospitality          and educators are less sophisticated as         more willing to accept the graduates and put
Management                        compared to international researchers.          in more effort to develop them if the latter
12/5 [2000] 291±295
                                  Publications of research papers from            can help contribute to the success of the
                                  Chinese scholars are mainly confined to         organisations.
                                  local journals and newspapers such as
                                  China Tourism Publishing House (Beijing),       References
                                  Tourism Education Press (Beijing), and          CNTA (1998), Yearbook of China Tourism
                                  Guangdong Tourism Publishing House                  Statistics, pp. 130-1.
                                  (Guangzhou). Having said that, the              Evans, J.R. and Lindsay, W.M. (1999),
                                  importance of tourism research has been             ``Experiential learning: past and present'', in
                                  emphasised by the State Education                   Jackson, L. and Caffarella, R.S. (Eds),
                                  Commission. Although there are no official          Experiential Learning: A New Approach,
                                  records documented, it is estimated that            Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, pp. 5-15.
                                  there are 13 tourism textbook series            Huyton, J.R. and Sutton, J. (1996), ``Employee
                                  consisting of 109 tourism books in China            perceptions of the hotel industry in the
                                  and 155 articles regarding design and               People's Republic of China'', International
                                                                                      Journal of Contemporary Hospitality
                                  tourism teaching and research
                                                                                      Management, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 22-8.
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                                  Research efforts cannot be undermined in
                                                                                      of China's tourism colleges and institutes'', an
                                  China and as such will accelerate the
                                                                                      unpublished article presented at the annual
                                  maturity of tourism as a discipline.
                                                                                      conference of China Tourism Colleges and
                                                                                      Schools Association, Chongqing, 4-9 August.
                                                                                  Tao, H.J. (1997), ``My understanding of the
                                 Conclusions                                          development stages of China's tourism
                                                                                      education'', Tourism Tribune: Supplementary
                                The rapid development of tourism in China
                                                                                      Issue of Tourism Education, pp. 6-9.
                                has urged reforms of tourism education.
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                                China's tourism education into the twenty-
                                                                                      young people in the People's Republic of
                                first century will develop graduates with a
                                                                                      China'', unpublished MA thesis, University of
                                broader disciplinary base, a hierarchically           Durham.
                                balanced knowledge and skill construct, and       Zeithaml, V.A., Parasuraman, A. and Berry, L.L.
                                a greater innovative ability in China's               (1990), Delivering Quality Service: Balancing
                                international as well as domestic tourism             Customer Perceptions and Expectations, The
                                labour market. If the reforms can be                  Free Press, New York, NY.
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                                demand and provide quality service for                pp. 357-67.

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