Mar 21, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, has declared tourism to be “an economic and social phenomenon.”  Not only has the industry experienced meteoric growth over the decades to become one of the planet’s fastest-growing economic sectors, but it’s also linked to development in new and exciting destinations. Factor in digital disruption, and the takeaway is clear: There’s no more exhilarating (or rewarding) time to work in the red-hot area of hospitality and tourism.

It’s hardly a surprise that so many people are endeavoring to get into this field, which is why a degree in tourism and hospitality can be an invaluable way to gain an advantage on the job market. But with so many possibilities when it comes to programs and degree destinations, how do you know where to undertake your studies? For many tourism and hospitality students, Hong Kong is THE place to be. Here’s a closer look at three reasons to head to Hong Kong for hospitality and tourism studies.

1. It’s the ultimate global city.

Travel and tourism are one of the world’s most dynamic and global industries. When it comes to an equally dynamic and global city, Hong Kong leads the pack. Contends The Guardian of Hong Kong’s status as a “glamorous global metropolis” for students, “Whether you are initially fond of its cosmopolitan lifestyle, its international significance, or simply its overcrowdedness, you might be amazed by what the pearl of the orient has to offer.”

Speaking of global cities, Hong Kong boasts two official languages: English and Chinese. Given that the former is regarded as the lingua franca of travel, English proficiency is a must for those looking to maximize their potential in hospitality and travel.

However, a boom in outbound travel in Chinese also highlights huge opportunities for industry experts with Chinese language proficiency. Says Bloomberg, “China, led by younger adults, has become vital to the global travel market’s growth. As China’s travel market takes off, all eyes should be on the country’s roughly 400 million millennials, who will drive spending on airfare, hotels, theme parks, casinos and cruises.” Coupled with this is the rapid development of tourism and hospitality throughout the Asia-Pacific region, which means that professionals with expertise from and in the region will continue to be in high demand.

2. It’s the gateway between East and West.

Speaking of China, if you’re looking to travel there during your studies -- whether to see the sights or job hunt – Hong Kong is the ideal entry point.

Says the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB): "Hong Kong has long been the primary gateway to China; home to an ancient and rich culture as well as stunning natural beauty. Travel to China is better and easier than ever before. Frequent air links from Hong Kong's international airport, efficient rail services and some of the world's largest fleets of high-speed and overnight ferries make China easily accessible.”

Hong Kong offers a convenient inroad to mainland China, but its role as point-of-access is not limited.  Sitting within the same timezone as both Beijing and Perth, Hong Kong is perfectly situated in the heart of the Asia-Pacific region.  Hong Kong International Airport is served by over one hundred airlines and connects to half the world’s population within a five-hour flight time. With more than one thousand international flights daily and all of Asia’s key markets less than a four-hour flight from Hong Kong, the city serves as an ideal hub for business connections, as a meeting point for international cooperation, and a convenient access-point to the diverse and growing leisure destinations in the region.

3. It’s an educational powerhouse.

In terms of territorial area, Hong Kong has one of the largest concentration of world-class universities in the world. And its star is on the rise. One particular standout among Hong Kong universities in the area of travel and hospitality? The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management, or “SHTM” (#PolyUSHTM).

Not only does PolyU boast accolades aplenty, including 6th in the QS Top 50 Under 50 rankings for 2018; 27th in the QS Asian University rankings for 2018, and 95th in the QS World University rankings, but its hospitality, leisure, and tourism management programs were also top performers, including first and third place finishes, respectively, in ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects for 2017 and QS World University’s Rankings by Subject for 2018.

These honors are well-earned. Offering a broad range of degrees, including the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Hotel and Tourism Management, the Doctor of Hotel and Tourism Management (D.HTM), the Master of Science (MSc) in Global Hospitality Business, the MSc in International Wine Management, the MSc in International Hospitality Management and International Tourism and Convention Management, and the Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Hotel Management and Tourism & Events Management, this world-class hotel and tourism school has become a global center of excellence in hospitality and tourism education and research over the last four decades.

Home to more than 2,000 students, a breadth and depth of top-notch academic staff, and its groundbreaking teaching and research hotel, Hotel ICON, SHTM delivers a winning fusion of practical and specialized education aimed at preparing the next generation of hospitality and tourism industry leaders.

As Asia’s world city, Hong Kong’s is strategically located at the heart of the world’s fastest-growing economies. For hospitality and tourism students, Hong Kong’s centrality, as well as its sophisticated hospitality and tourism industry, provides a relevancy that is cultivated by the educational programs offered at SHTM.  Coupled with Hong Kong’s vibrancy and world-class facilities, SHTM stands out as an attractive destination for students.

 

While China may be leading the way, the Asian region at large is also experiencing a global travel boom -- for both business and recreational travel. Aspiring travel and hospitality students looking for a front row -- and interactive! -- view of the action will find it in Hong Kong at SHTM.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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