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Sun 7 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Agents call for an industry training school

Travel trade renews its pleas for travel training school to be established in the region.

Prominent members of the region's travel trade have called for a training school for travel agency and tour operator staff.

They claim the industry is crying out for a training school to be introduced to help attract new blood to the industry and address increasing concerns about staff shortages and retention.

"A training centre would make all the difference," said Alpha holidays product manager John Flower. "Other places have them in abundance so why not here?"

The travel industry is currently losing potential recruits to other higher paying sectors like finance and is not seen by enough as a viable career path, according to many travel professionals.

"I think this is going to become an even bigger issue than it is currently," said Dubai Travel and Tour Agents Group (DTTAG) general manager Leo Fewtrell.

"What we need is some real training initiatives; opening up a training school in Dubai is something we've been pushing for a while; it would bring down costs and generate interest as well as giving people grounding in the industry, so it would be really beneficial."

Fewtrell noted that around a year ago, technology solutions distributor EmQuest, part of the Emirates Group, had talked of establishing a training programme for aspiring travel consultants.

The idea behind the programme, which was to be dubbed ‘Edutrain', was that individuals with ambitions to become a travel agent were offered internships/work placements at travel agencies in Dubai with a view to them becoming full-time employees at those companies when their training is completed.

However, this programme has not been rolled out to date, which Fewtrell said was "very disappointing".

"Much like the Emirates Airline zero commission training, it never materialised," he said.

But EmQuest sales and support manager Preetha Shankar said there were plans to launch the Edutrain concept in 2009.

"This year EmQuest has been busy organising the changeover from [distributing] Galileo to Sabre so our focus has been changing our own staff," she told ATN.

"The agent training programme will be back on the agenda in the new year."

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