Edited by Pierre Benckendorff and Anita Zehrer
Chapter 14: Experiential tourism and hospitality learning: principles and practice
Learners who complete tourism and hospitality degree programs graduate into a world that is often described as the ‘experience economy’. This chapter addresses how graduates can acquire experiential learning through the course of their studies and be equipped for this world as both citizens and professionals in their chosen domain. In preparing graduates for careers in a service-oriented sector, tourism and hospitality higher education lends itself to experiential delivery modes. Whilst internships or cooperative education are the most readily appreciated examples of experiential delivery, there are many other forms, notably service learning. Though an experiential learning approach often involves a strong off-campus emphasis, it can also be applied in classroom settings. There is self-evidently a need for higher education to provide learners with a theoretical base, since critical inquiry distinguishes it from the ‘how to’ emphasis of technical and vocational education. In the present chapter the authors explore how an Asia-based institution – The Hong Kong Polytechnic University – has advanced experiential learning in the curriculum with notable reference to Hotel ICON, a university owned and operated teaching and research hotel. The reference to research as well as to teaching indicates that experiential learning involves knowledge creation as well as application. The authors explain how the mandating of a four-year curriculum for public universities by the Hong Kong government (degrees were previously three years long) has benefited students by extending the scope for innovative experiential learning.
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