Gemma Haywood was a UK winner of the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership Research Award in 2010 while a student at Cornwall College St Austell*. She and her fellow UK winner Josie Greatorex presented at the GTTP’s annual student/teacher conference, which was held in Munich that year.
In this interview, Gemma shares a taste of the adventures she’s been up to since then, including exciting travel in South America and now pursuing a Tourism Management degree at Bournemouth University. She also explains how the GTTP sparked her interest in travel and tourism as a career.
Gemma, what have you been up to since the GTTP student/teacher conference in 2010?
On returning from the conference, I finished my diploma in Travel and Tourism with distinctions and completed my Duke of Edinburgh Award Gold.
After this, I decided I wanted to explore and see the world so I packed my backpack for South America! It was such an amazing experience – I was lucky enough to stay with a host family in Costa Rica to learn Spanish, volunteer with street children in Cusco, climb a volcano in Chile and visit the Iguaçu falls in Argentina, meeting so many lovely people along the way. I then packed my bags once more and I am now studying Tourism Management at Bournemouth University.
How did the GTTP help influence your career choice?
Greatly! I have always had an interest in travel but the GTTP opened my eyes to all of the different possibilities available within the industry that I had never come across before. The conference helped me decide that I wanted to go to university to pursue these possibilities and find a job that would allow me to meet and work with people of different nationalities and cultures; a part of the GTTP conference I very much enjoyed.
What are you hoping to do once you have finished your degree?
Good question! My university course has been so varied and I have discovered many areas within tourism that I am interested in, such as Human Resource Management, Destination Management, Disaster Management…the list goes on!!. I would like to start gaining as much experience as possible and hope to find something I truly enjoy doing. I would like to continue my learning of Spanish also, as I feel that being able to speak another language is important in tourism.
How do you think you have changed and have your travel experiences helped?
Since 2010 I have definitely become more confident and I believe this is down to both the GTTP and travelling. These experiences have allowed me to mix with lots of different people and get involved with a whole range of activities, bringing me out of my shell and making me more open minded. These qualities are now contributing to the enjoyment and success of my university experience as I am participating in many activities and taking advantage of all the great opportunities on offer!
Are you still in touch with any of your GTTP friends from Munich?
Yes! It surprised us all how we only spent four days together, yet bonded so well! Fruzsina Csonka, from Hungary, came to England last year so I was fortunate enough to be able to meet with her again which was fabulous! As for everyone else, we would love a GTTP reunion, however with everyone scattered across the globe it is too difficult. It is nice to see what everyone is up to and how well people are doing via Facebook though.
What advice would you give to yourself back in 2010?
Don’t be so scared! I felt I was quite shy before which stopped me from doing many things, but luckily my teachers pushed me (nicely!) to go for it and I’m so glad they did because it has made me realise that there are so many great things out there to grab….all you need is a little confidence!
* The Cornwall College Group offers Level 2 – 5 qualifications in Travel and Tourism for post secondary school students and has been affiliated with the GTTP for several years to help ensure that academic programs remain relevant for future employers.
Sarah Bruce, teacher at Cornwall College St Austell, said: “The GTTP research project has been a fabulous way for us to make contact with people in the Travel and Tourism industry. It has given the learners the opportunity to develop their skills outside of the classroom and to get a real taste of the varied world of Global Travel and Tourism. It enhances our teaching and delivery of the subject as it gives it gives the learners first hand experience of what it would be like to work in this sector – making the subject more ‘real.’ It is a fabulous project to be part of.”