Name: Dr David Beirman
Position title: Senior Lecturer, Tourism, Management Discipline Group
Company name: University of Technology-Sydney
When and why did you join the industry?
I first officially became a part of the travel industry in March 1981 ( I had been a tour leader before then) when I was asked by an old friend if I wanted to become a travel consultant at Jetset Tours, Bondi. I had finished a contract position on a Friday so this request which would take effect on the following Monday was an unexpected bolt from the blue. What started as an accidental appointment developed into a real passion for tourism. My involvement in the industry included work with travel agents, wholesalers, destination marketing organisations and consolidation. I commenced full- time lecturing at UTS in November 2009 but had done some part time lecturing at UTS and several other universities from 1994.
What do you like most about your job?
Working as an academic allows many possibilities. I love teaching students who develop a passion for tourism and it’s great to see our graduates succeed in the industry. I am able to engage with many tourism professionals and tourism associations and I love the exchanges which occur between academics and professionals from all sectors of the travel industry. I have the freedom through my research to engage with the tourism industry globally.
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
There are many things that I am happy to have been a part of. However, if asked to point to one particular project, In 2003 I was asked to develop a tourism recovery blueprint for Kenya. It worked because the Kenyan tourism industry put the key points into practice and as a result between 2003-2007 tourism underwent massive growth in Kenya which resulted in doubling the tourism workforce. Being a part of job creation for thousands of people and all that goes with it is special.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
The best advice I ever received was from an elderly American cigar dealer called Alfred Weber. He said, “encourage everyone to underestimate you”. That way you always exceed their expectations.
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
The two people I equally admire in the global travel industry are Taleb Rifaat Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organisation and David Scowsill, President of the World Travel and Tourism Council. Both these men have been outstanding global advocates of tourism and have been wise enough to work together as allies to bring the private sectors and the government sectors of global tourism closer together. In my own field of Tourism risk and crisis management my friend and colleague, Bert Van Walbeek from Bangkok is the undisputed travel industry master of disaster.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
Universities have the fortunate role of seeing the big picture of tourism. We are able to provide a venue and a forum for tourism planning and management. We teach people the skills they will need to be administrators, managers, planners, innovators and leaders in all sectors of the tourism industry. UTS also has an extensive research agenda and our staff and students can really help the industry with targeted research to assist them with their businesses. Our combination of industry connections and broad research experience makes us different from most other Australian universities teaching tourism.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
Patagonia, India, Myanmar, Jordan and Eastern Europe are destinations I have yet to visit but would really like to.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
I once led a group of uni students in Israel on an 8 week tour and study program and I had roused them out of bed one morning at 3.00 a.m. They moaned, groaned and cursed me all the way up to the top of Masada, Naturally I took them on the long walk up. However, we were greeted to a spectacular sunrise over the Dead Sea and a sunrise flyover of a squadron of Israeli Air Force combat jets. The cursing changed to wow, how did you arrange this ???? Of course I could claim no credit for the either sunrise or the flyover (which was a daily ritual) I never told my group but the group never moaned again when I got them up early for some exciting experience.
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
A preventative for Delhi Belly, A bottle of good whisky for problem solving (if required), a phrase book to help with the language of the country I am visiting.
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
David Attenborough, Galapagos Islands. He knows the area intimately and nobody would be better equipped to explain it
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
I think the prospects for the travel industry over the next 5-10 years are good. Asia-Pacific will clearly lead the way for future global tourism growth and I think it will be both a greater tourism generating region and destination attractor than Europe much sooner than many forecasters think.
I think the destinations which are set to boom in the years ahead are Eastern Europe, South and Central America, Australia and New Zealand and in SE Asia Myanmar and Laos will
feature as popular attractions. China will do its best to try and balance the growth of outbound tourism with a growth in inbound tourism. It will need to offer more infrastructure and product to appeal to the budget conscious traveller than it currently does.
While technology will continue to advance, more travellers will seek the advice of people when planning travel. Travel agents who can position themselves as genuine travel experts can expect to be successful.