There’s only one tourism school in Canada that has the fuselage of a Boeing 737-500 jet inside its campus for training purposes. And it happens to be the country’s oldest: Canadian Tourism College.
Founded more than 40 years ago, it has a 5,000-square-foot facility in Surrey and a 16,000-square-foot campus on downtown Vancouver’s Melville Street, which opened last September. A crane was required to install the fuselage, which has a complete interior and 30 seats for educating flight attendants.
According to Canadian Tourism College chief operating officer Benjamin Colling, the three-month flight-attendant training program appeals to those who’ve always dreamed of flying. The work can involve everything from helping a couple celebrate a honeymoon to resuscitating a sick passenger to calming someone with a fear of flying.
“There’s a lot of technical training,” Colling says. “But 50 percent is developing you as an individual and your confidence—and your ability to handle conflict, chaos, and emergencies—and just being able to connect with people to make them feel good.”
Canadian Tourism College also offers diplomas in travel and tourism, as well as in hospitality and resort business management. These programs include one year of intensive study followed by one year of full-time work as a co-op student at Canadian pay levels.
“We really believe we provide education in those fields better than any institution in Canada,” Colling says. “I think a testament to that is the resources and investment that we put into it. It wasn’t easy to get a Boeing 737 into our school.”
The travel and tourism program offers a pathway to work in many fields, including as a travel agent and in the outdoor-adventure sector. One of the benefits of working as a travel agent is the opportunity to visit destinations around the world at deeply discounted prices.
In hospitality, he adds, people can learn the skills to thrive in the hotel and resort business, where there are plenty of opportunities for advancement.
If students graduate with a B average in hospitality and resort business management with the co-op component, they can then transfer to Royal Roads University and bachelor-degree-granting programs in international hotel management or global tourism management.
This way, they can receive a degree—on top of their existing diploma—in two years, plus they have a year of work experience.
There’s a similar agreement in place with Vancouver Community College for those who obtain a Canadian Tourism College co-op diploma in hospitality and resort business management. Colling maintains that the existence of these transfer programs demonstrates the quality of education at his institution.
Unlike most private institutions, Canadian Tourism College only hires full-time faculty for any programs lasting one year or longer. According to Colling, this ensures they can provide superior mentorship to students.
“Our two full-time faculty members for hospitality in Vancouver have a combined 50 years’ experience between both of them,” he says.
According to the Tourism Industry Association of B.C., more than 20 million travellers visited Canada last year. Total revenues in tourism reached $97.4 billion, up 6.3 percent over the previous year.
“To have training in this area leads to a lifelong career where individuals can have families, buy houses, and save for the future,” Colling emphasizes. “You can make very decent salaries. It’s just a matter of knowing what to do and rising to the top because you’re better trained and you have more knowledge than the person beside you.”