What would you have loved to learn about in a high school travel and tourism class?
December 21, 2006 7:05 AM   Subscribe

Travel & Tourism filter: I've been tasked with teaching a travel and tourism course for the rest of the school year. What would you have loved to learn about in a high school travel and tourism class? Conversely, is there anything that you wish you did learn?
posted by maxpower to Education (25 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I taught a heritage tourism as economic development workshop. I think some of the important topics are:
niche marketing
ipod tours
GPS related tours
packaging for small communties or attractions
joint marketing
web presence/online package building
solid understanding of logistics/group travel
ADA compliance
hub and spokes tours, how to market HST.
Emerging arts/crafts trails
posted by stormygrey at 7:19 AM on December 21, 2006

I think I need more information to give an opinion... I've never heard of such a class and can't really fathom what it's teaching. How to be a travel agent? How to pass yourself off as Canadian if you're from the USA? Garble the local tongue to really ingratiate yourself with the natives...

Explain! =)
posted by empyrean at 7:47 AM on December 21, 2006

Assuming it's a class on being the one who does the traveling:

The environmental impact of travel (ecotourism benefits vs. fuel/resources used in transport, etc.)

How to be a responsible traveler - choosing trips/companies that operate in a sustainable manner; being aware of local customs and how to be considerate (i.e., not be seen as a rude foreigner).

How to really learn about the people and places you visit, rather than just being a "tourist" in the shallow, negative sense.

Readings on how travel changes people.

Also, readings on how to "travel" without actually having to go anywhere.

Also: how to travel if neither you nor your parents have money.
posted by amtho at 7:58 AM on December 21, 2006

Response by poster: empyrean, I basically have carte blanche, these were my instructions:

Teach whatever you want. The course is called Travel and Tourism.

Basically, I'm looking for interesting lesson topics and tidbits of knowledge. But I'm all ears for others suggestions.
posted by maxpower at 8:00 AM on December 21, 2006

You should check out the International Ecotourism Society. They have lots of briefs, guides and links.

Issues surrounding ecotourism, as the above have alluded to, are very interesting and worth considering. Everything from making personal choices to legislating environmental impact and community involvement. Good luck. If you get a chance, post a sketch syllabus here for us to see what you come up with.
posted by jtajta at 8:05 AM on December 21, 2006

tourism studies, as its known, is becoming a huge academic subdiscipline. you have some good suggestions on topics above, but there's a wealth of stuff out there:

UC berkeley tourism studies department

journal of tourism studies

Tourist Studies: a journal

if you have access to JSTOR or Project Muse, there are many articles on there that you can search for with keywords...
posted by yonation at 8:11 AM on December 21, 2006

You teach this in high school? Boy, I never had a class like that in high school, or even college. I would simply organize a bunch of trips and then have students write essays and discuss their experiences. Also, I would watch some movies that involve travel. This sounds like fun to me. As a whole class, it sounds like BS though, so I would just make certain that everyone has a good time.
posted by xammerboy at 8:17 AM on December 21, 2006

by the way, referring to xammerboy's question, i dont think this is a bunch of BS - tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world right now and is potentially reworking much of what is taken for granted in classical social theory, including economy, citizenship, as mentioned above, environmentalism, what does "museumification" of countries entail in the history of colonialism, etc? i realize some of that is out of reach of high schoolers but kids are s-m-r-t and if you broach these topics you will have been a much more interesting teacher than most of them have had.
posted by yonation at 8:19 AM on December 21, 2006

Best answer: I think one of the best things you can do for these kids is to help them realize that people in other countries have different, equally valid ways of doing things. I took a class on cross-cultural communication in college (that's a lot of alliteration) and one of the books we worked with was "French or Foe?" by Polly Platt. I've found the "Culture Shock" series very useful too - you might get some ideas from there.
posted by srah at 8:24 AM on December 21, 2006

In what country/state/province will you be teaching the course?
posted by davey_darling at 8:32 AM on December 21, 2006

International Faux Pas!

Oh how I would've loved to answer the test question:

In which of the following countries does the American hand gesture "A-Okay" refer instead to the anus is some way?

a) Japan
b) Germany
c) Italy
d) Brazil
e) All of the above
posted by 10ch at 8:36 AM on December 21, 2006

I basically have carte blanche, these were my instructions: Teach whatever you want.

Excellent... *rubs hands together*

You've been given some good ideas so far...

Responsible travel, there's a section on that over at lonelyplanet.com... in fact there's a ton of good stuff there if you want to do readings from the blogs there.

Maybe cover mankind's fascination and the history of travel/tourism. The Grand Tour, Cabinets of Curiousities, maybe talk about Australian walkabouts and other culturally traditional travels. Wanderlust. Travel as a youth has often been considered a rite of passage in many places and during many periods of our history.

This could be a fun course, I hope you have a good time with it.
posted by empyrean at 8:36 AM on December 21, 2006

Following up on yonation's answer: if you choose to examine tourism as an economic development avenue, how about examining the vulnerabilities to which a tourism-based economy is subject? In other words, might there be circumstances under which tourism is not a good basis for a local economy, or are there ways to mitigate these risks?

For example, tourism can be adversely affected by high fuel prices, fear of travel / terrorism, weather problems, or simply fashion changing -- another place becomes more interesting to visit, or people decide not to travel as much. So, if your entire economy is based on tourists coming, and they decide not to show up, you've got problems. Disclaimer: I've not really studied this myself, but I've wondered about it. Surely there are articles out there addressing this.
posted by amtho at 8:45 AM on December 21, 2006

I love all the answers people have given (especially amtho's). I might also add, given the number of questions that get posted about it here, something about just how to travel -- how to research a destination, how to find legitimate information (rather than just ads) about your destination, etc. That would be boring if it were the entire class, of course, but maybe weave it into some of the projects: "You're going to take a one-week trip to Cape Town. What do you do, where do you stay, what do you bring, what formalities do you need to take care of before you leave, what impact will your trip have on the destination city/country, and how can you mitigate/enhance that effect?"
posted by occhiblu at 8:56 AM on December 21, 2006

hostels: what to expect, how to find good ones on the internet, and how incredibly awesome they are.
posted by trinarian at 9:02 AM on December 21, 2006

I have a coworker who majored in adventure tourism. I'll email him the question and try to get his response.
posted by trinarian at 9:05 AM on December 21, 2006

I took a course in college on the history of modern tourism - it was fabulous! I could e-mail you our reading list, if you'd like, as it's rather long to paste. We started with a kind of lead-in about early tourist experiences (Mark Twain, Henry James, very interesting) and worked through both geographic and theoretical frameworks. We discussed the explosion of the American West, what "backstage" tours mean and how they affect tourism (where an extra "backstage" has to essentially be constructed for the purposes of showing "how we make it happen"), the implications of favela tourism in Rio de Janeiro, how urban tourism affected the development of cities, etc.

I wrote my final paper on film tourism to the Amish Country in Lancaster, PA as it related to the movie Witness. I got to talk about the history of tourism to that area, the controversies about exploitation (from both sides), the ways popular culture influences where and why people travel, how "lifestyles" become commodified, and how our perceptions of these issues change over time.

From reading the other responses, it seems like there are soooo many ways this class could go. I would recommend taking an issue/area you already know about and are interested in, and then you can figure out how tourism relates to it. Otherwise, it seems like the issue is just too broad to tackle as a single subject.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 9:06 AM on December 21, 2006

Best answer: Why not do a few days on Worst Case Scenarios? Everything from losing your passport or finding yourself stuck in an airport for 36 hours to getting along in a foreign country during a military coup. Anthony Bourdain's article about being in Lebanon during the recent war with Israel is a fascinating look at how a business/pleasure trip was thwarted by global politics, and how they (and their producers) handled such a volatile situation.
posted by junkbox at 10:07 AM on December 21, 2006

I am assuming that you are teaching to potential travelers, as opposed to potential travel agents and tour guides (who will likely get all the training they really need from their employer). It seems to me that there are two major aspects to what you need to teach:

How to prepare to travel. Things like getting a passport; figuring out what immunizations, visas, etc. one needs; crash course in geography (cause Americans just don't know enough geography) with a general overview of cultures involved (by continent) and plenty of "find out more at these links" in the handout; basic trip planning including how to get there and how to figure out what to do there; what to be careful of; how to interpret State Department travel advisories.

How to actually travel. What to expect at customs; how to get around; how to avoid being a crime/scam victim; how to be an American without being Ugly; "The American Embassy Is Your Friend"; culture and cultural taboos; money changing; what to do in an emergency; how to get more than tchotchies and dysentary from your travel experience.

I am sure I will think of more after hitting "post" but you get the idea.
posted by ilsa at 10:37 AM on December 21, 2006

Best answer: Lots of good ideas here. Some possible additions: you could do a lesson on sex tourism and how much it harms the various host countries. You could also do a lesson where you simulate the kids experiencing tourism in a foreign country. Could be the same lesson, or a different one - teach the kids about the experience of tourists to the US. You could brainstorm all the things that might be difficult/challenging/surprising/cool about the US.

Some possible lessons (in no particular order)

- early travel history - how tourism developed, great stories, etc.

- travel practicalities (this might be 2 lessons) - getting good prices, how to research good places, scams, hostelling, keeping valuables safe, etc.

- spotlight on an interesting travel destinations - the kids could each be assigned to research a travel destination they find interesting

- eco tourism (and responsible tourism in general)

- adventure tourism (incl rafting, trekking, kayaking, spelunking, 3rd world travel, etc.)

- the affects of sex tourism (and other harmful tourism)

- culture/gender/cultural taboos

- tourist's experience in the US (and/or traveling in the US - kids should know about opportunities here too)

- Traveling on a budget.

- Package tourism (maybe)

- spotlight on famous travel sites (again, could have the students do segments on this) - e.g. Taj Majal, Venice generally, Great Wall of China, Pyramids, Angkor Wat, not just the Seven Wonders, but something along those lines

-ethical dilemmas of travel (maybe) - stuff like, should you overpay in poor countries to be generous or pay the going rate so you don't make goods/services overly expensive for the locals

By the way, if you're assigning reading, two of my favorite travel books are: (1) A Fortune Teller Told Me - Tiziano Terzani, which is about traveling around SE Asia by land, and (2) I Should Have Stayed Home - The Worst Trips of the Great Writers - mainly it's funny.
posted by Amizu at 11:39 AM on December 21, 2006

You may wish to have them read Kerouac's On the Road and discuss the American Eastcoast fantasy of going "Out West", or just roadtrips in general.
posted by honest knave at 12:46 PM on December 21, 2006

Best answer: How come no one has mentioned how to remember the trip you took?!

A section on keeping in touch with people at home via e-mail or a travel blog would be great. There's also a ton of sites out there that allow you create a whole travel journal package with maps and waypoints, photo galleries and blgos.

You could also do a short segment on actually writing compelling travel journal entries. Perhpas even show some examples of what hand-written travel journals could look like. (Recently I saw a link to some guy's hand-written travel journal on Flickr that was really, really amazing. He had all these little mementos and hand-drawn pictures.)

And, of course, taking better pictures! I wish I had taken a class in photography before going on my last trip to Europe. My pictures are okay, but I often feel they lack in that artistic flair. You could bring in a photographer for a day to talk about setting up a scene, getting the lighting right, etc.
posted by PandemicSoul at 1:22 PM on December 21, 2006

This stuff is interesting. I worked with the author who was working for the World Tourism Organisation, on information about tourism police etc.
posted by b33j at 2:19 PM on December 21, 2006

Best answer: from my coworker who majored in adventure tourism [and answers are subsequently skewed towards that kind of gig]:
Adventure Adventure Adventure,

- A comparison between those historical Intrepid explorers going into the unknown with basic equipment and todays equivalent the traveller with nowhere new to explore, constantly seeking self realisiation through escapism from the pressures of western society.
- Backpackers are interesting the trailblazers ( Alex Garland's, 'The Beach'), should we really travel to untouched prestine environments?
- Difference between a 'Traveller' and a 'Tourist', are there any travelers left.
- Changes in Adventure equipment and what its allowing adventurers to achieve, whilst also being a mainstream fashion segment, 'Snowboarders' are a good example.
- How do you define adventure?
- Risk management in hazardous environments, mountians, jungles, rivers, etc...
- What does it take to be an Adventure Tourism Leader
- Adventure Therapy
- Adventure Corporate Training
- Urban Artificial Adventure

I could bable on for ever and go deeper, I mean this was my degree! But theres a start hope it can help, the concepts behind Adventure sell themselves its an inherent part of humans, that curiosity of the unknown and desire to for challenge!
posted by trinarian at 9:12 PM on December 21, 2006

Response by poster: Some great ideas and thoughts posted here by all. Thanks for your input and help!
posted by maxpower at 11:41 AM on December 22, 2006

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