Educational tours as a learning mechanism in the learning experience of Tourism students: Tourism Management Walter Sisulu University (Ibika Campus)
Poponi, Kowazo Cony.
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Though research has been done on tourism education, very few research studies have been conducted that explore educational tours as a learning mechanism for tourism students. The study was undertaken to explore the value of educational tours as a learning mechanism in the learning experience of tourism students of Walter Sisulu University on the Ibika Campus. Literature reviewed identified various factors that affect learning including the value and benefits of educational tours, as well as indicating the challenges associated with the planning and making sure that these tours bring value and are in alignment with the objectives and learning outcomes of the tourism degree. The tourism curriculum embraces integration of both theory and practical at all levels of the tourism program. The study made use of a qualitative approach, with individual interviews with lecturing staff and focus group interviews with the students. A purposive sampling method was employed to select three focus groups of students who were registered for second year in Tourism Management, chosen mainly because they had already experienced educational tours in their first year and second year of their studies. Two lecturers from Tourism Management were chosen for the study because they were involved in the planning of educational tours and they always accompany the students when travelling to different destinations. The findings of this study, obtained through focus group interviews and individual interviews revealed that both students and lecturers perceive educational tours as a valuable learning mechanism to the student’s professional development as aspiring tourism industry professionals. Benefits that come with these educational tours were identified as well as constraints that will need further investigation. This is in turn was supported by the literature review that highlighted the value of educational tours and the significance of including these tours as part of the curriculum in university courses. These findings therefore will need further exploration due to the limited number of participants in this study.