Third-level education initiative launched to futureproof Ireland’s visitor attractions

TU-Dublin

The Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions (AVEA)  announced its new Visitor Attraction Management Certificate of Completion in partnership with Technological University Dublin’s (TU Dublin) School of Hospitality, Management and Tourism. Having commenced in September 2021, the certificate aims to elevate the career and learning opportunities within Ireland’s visitor experience and attractions, establishing a strong pipeline of talent for the sector.

Both undergraduates and mature students can achieve the new certificate via two routes by either completing:

  • Four visitor experience optional modules as part of TU Dublin’s BA in Tourism Management, or
  • TU Dublin’s new continuous professional development Diploma in Visitor Attraction Management which is aimed at individuals working in the visitor attraction sector or those who wish to work in the sector.

Launching the new Visitor Attraction Management Certificate of Completion, Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Niall Collins TD said: “This collaboration is a fantastic example of higher education and industry working together to enhance the learning and career options for a sector which is so critical to Ireland’s tourism industry.

“Despite a tough 18 months, future planning by educating the next generation of tourism students about the amazing attractions and experiences we have in Ireland is a true testament to the vision, resilience, and optimism by both AVEA members, the employers and TU Dublin, the educators.

“As a sector, visitor attractions are not only responsible for Ireland’s most important strategic tourism assets but also significantly contribute to our indigenous economy. As Minister, I fully commend and support the efforts of AVEA and TU Dublin in creating a healthy pipeline of graduates to safeguard the future of Ireland’s visitor experiences.”

AVEA Vice Chair Gráinne Kelliher said: “As we emerge from an exceptionally challenging period, attracting new talent and energy to drive the recovery and growth of visitor attractions will be vital for futureproofing the sector. Like other sectors in the tourism and hospitality industry, our members are finding staff recruitment increasingly difficult, an obstacle we expect to continue to face as the post Covid-19 economic recovery ramps up. However, as a sector we are optimistic that both routes being offered through the new certificate with TU Dublin will help address this imbalance by creating a strong future pipeline of graduates who will consider a career in the sector, as well as providing further education to our existing most valuable assets – our people.

“This collaboration is a strategically important gateway to showcase visitor experiences as workplaces that offer an exciting and rewarding career choice. Through the work experience elements of the programme, AVEA members will offer Tourism Management students first-hand insight to how the sector offers an opportunity to break the mould of ordinary workplace life. At the same time, they will be making a creative contribution to visitor attractions that are core to the fabric of Ireland’s cultural and heritage identity.”

TU Dublin Tourism Management students who wish to receive the certificate must undertake four visitor attraction management-related modules in first and second year. These modules include: Innovation and Tourism, Products, Markets and Experiences; Tourism Operations; Visitor Attraction Management; and Heritage, Culture and Tourism.

Ms Kelliher added: “As part of AVEA’s commitment to develop the core skills and competencies required by the sector, we support our members to engage existing staff in continuous professional development. The new certificate will therefore be available to professionals currently working with AVEA members looking to upskill. Mature students can access the same visitor attraction related modules through a new TU Dublin Level 6 Diploma in Visitor Attraction Management where they will receive the AVEA certificate upon completion.

“This Diploma will also be available to those interested in making a career switch to the VEA sector including those in the mature labour market. We find the mature labour market to be a fantastic fit for our members. Those who return to education with tourism in mind, have typically looked to see how they can harness their skills as good communicators – a vital attribute to the success of visitor attractions.”

Assistant Head of School of Hospitality, Management and Tourism at TU Dublin, Dr Denise O’Leary said: “We are incredibly proud of the rich contribution our skilled graduates make to Ireland’s world-famous tourism offering. Visitor attractions are vital components to the country’s overall tourism marketing strategy, creating reasons for destination choice and driving demand. Therefore, our visitor attraction modules place great emphasises on what is required to create and manage experiences that entertain, inform, and engage. These are delivered through a programme of lectures by skilled educators, who have in-depth knowledge and experience working in the sector. Tourism Management students, who complete these modules will then be supported in work placements under the guidance of AVEA members set up in partnership with TU Dublin. The ultimate objective would be for these students to go on to choose a career in the VEA sector.

“In addition, we are exceptionally excited to welcome those who have already made a commitment to continue or switch their career working in a visitor attraction. Our Level 6 TU Dublin Diploma in Visitor Attraction Management for continuing professional development students has commenced with a full class cohort, which is a great signal that there is strong interest in ongoing skills and learning in the sector.  The course is designed to work for those already in full or part-time employment and programme delivery takes account of typical working hours.”

AVEA is an active participant in Failte Ireland’s career oversight group and have worked with Education & Training Boards (ETB) Ireland in the now well-established visitor guide training programmes that are delivered nationally.

To find out more about the Association of Visitor Attractions and Experiences, visit: www.avea.ie.

Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of www.newsgroup.ie with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at info@newsgroup.ie.

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