Travel & Tourism Students take learning outside of the classroom to the exTREEme!

Travel & Tourism Students take learning outside of the classroom to the exTREEme!

Students studying BTEC Travel and Tourism have had an exciting start to their studies with the opportunity to see local travel and tourism businesses in operation for themselves.

In a combined visit both Level 2 and Level 3 year groups, totalling 40 students, have been on two studies of local East Anglian visitor attractions – Colchester Zoo and ‘Go Ape!’ At Thetford Forest.  Although there were fun opportunities to feed the animals and let off steam on the treetop walkway, the visits had a serious element to them – directly linking to the units being studied and the vocational assignments the students write as part of their coursework.

Judy Shannon, Lecturer in Travel and Tourism said: “Visits at this early stage in the course are fundamental for making friends and providing team building opportunities. They provide students with the opportunity to socialise with their peers and tutors outside of an educational setting which is really beneficial”

At Colchester Zoo the students had the opportunity to speak to the customer services team and zoo keepers about what makes Colchester Zoo a successful East Anglian tourist attraction. The zoo team answered lots of questions from the students about the visitor experience and sustainability of the attraction and what makes it such an exciting and rewarding place to work. After their talks the students were able to feed the Giraffes and Elephants and also get up close to the Lemurs.

At Thetford Forest the groups were split in two with half going on a guided Segway tour through the forest and the other half conquering the ‘Go Ape’ treetop obstacle course. As well as forming an excellent team building opportunity for the groups, the students were lucky enough to have a talk from the Operations Manager of the Thetford Go Ape experience with details provided about how the company has grown from the original tree top adventure at Thetford into a Global tourism business with over 30 treetop experiences world wide. We were told how they went the extra mile for their customers and how they developed new products and services to keep people coming back for more. The students were also treated to a BBQ lunch and use of an exclusive base camp area.     

Philip Miles, Lecturer in Travel and Tourism said: “Our Level 2 and Level 3 students thoroughly enjoyed their visits to these important East Anglian visitor attractions and it has provided them with lots of primary source information for their assignments – as well as a unique outdoor learning experience.”

Both visits have provided a firm foundation for the assignments the students write as part of their studies with direct links to customer service best practice and about the sustainable  operation of tourist attractions – a key component industry within the travel and tourism sector and an important source of local employment.

Toby Richardson, a Level 3 Travel & Tourism student said “Although it was an early start for us, it was well worth waking up for as we got to do so many exciting things and we learnt a lot by talking to the staff at both the zoo and go ape. My favourite part of the day was the high zipwires!”