Tourism students were given first-hand experience of how a major international destination operates when a group of second and third years visited Greenwich. The destination contains the tenth most popular tourist attractions in the UK and forms part of one of the UK’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The students were able to evaluate the visitor attractions of the Cutty Sark that carried cargoes of tea and wool to Britain; the Royal Naval Hospital with its ornate chapel; the National Maritime Museum; and the Royal Observatory and the meridian line. As well as enjoying the multicultural experience of the Greenwich Market, where they were able to savour the international cuisine, the students were impressed with the ease of the transport links to Greenwich: the Docklands Light Railway from Stratford and passing through Canary Wharf; and then returning down the river Thames on the Clipper where they stopped at The Tower of London.
Barrie Kelly, CEO of Visit Greenwich, gave a short presentation to the students to explain how different organisations can work together to make a destination success. Greenwich attracts some 18.5 million visitors a year, and this contributes approximately £1.2 billion to the local economy. The students heard about the ambitious plans to create a new cruise ship terminal in Greenwich to allow more international visitors to access the area.
James Kennell, Principal Lecturer at the University of Greenwich, talked to the students about the centrality of tourism in any plans to develop economic impact. He reviewed his research on the sustainability and effectiveness of Destination Management Organisations (DMOs).
One student was delighted to find that the Cutty Sark had visited his home island of São Tomé in the Gulf of Guinea. The interactive exhibits on the ship included ports that had been served by the Cutty Sark, and contained images of his home town from the late 19th century. Student Guter Narciso said “I was so excited to find that my home had this long-standing connection with the UK.”
Laura Locke, course leader for events and tourism at the University of Suffolk said “Activities such as this visit to London offer such marvellous opportunities for students to experience the reality of the contexts they are studying, to meet key experts and contributors to the tourism economy and to apply the theory to the practice.”
Professor David Gill, Director of Heritage Futures, said “The grandeur of Greenwich helps students to immerse themselves in a major international heritage attraction and to meet those involved with the destination’s presentation and interpretation.”
Professor David Collins, Head of the Suffolk Business School, added “Experiencing a major destination such as Greenwich situates and embeds more conventional forms of learning and in so doing allows students to appreciate the essential complexity of what we too often reduce to tourism. This experience combined with other opportunities to apply knowledge and to develop real-life reflection is what makes our graduates career-ready’.”
The students studying on the Event and Tourism programme are currently working with All About Ipswich to develop the Celebrate Ipswich conference on Friday 12 May at Trinity Park Conference Centre.
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