The top hoteliers of tomorrow have been assured that the industry they are entering will weather any Brexit fall-out better than most as they graduated today from one of Ireland’s most internationalised colleges.
Graduating students at the world-renowned Shannon College of Hotel Management, a college of NUI Galway, heard from both Head of College Dr Phillip Smyth and Colm Hannon, ‘2017 Class Patron’ and CEO of Adare Manor Resort, Co. Limerick and Luttrellstown Castle, Dublin that they have selected a career that will see off any Brexit impacts.
Some 87 Level 8 Degree students from 12 nations graduated today and continued the 66 year old college’s unrivalled record of having 100% graduate employment from the day its first graduates emerged, with some of the students working now in marquee hotels like the Waldorf Astoria, New York; Jumeriah Group in Dubai; Savoy Hotel and Ritz Hotel in London and many others across the world. The college this year received its highest ever number of CAO applications.
The overall student body at Shannon now includes 21 different nationalities, with one-quarter of the students coming from overseas, from the likes of China, India, US, UK, Germany, Canada, UAE, France, Italy and Seychelles. Such is the college’s international reach that it has an exclusive arrangement with the Seychelles Government that sees all students from the archipelago islands graduate through the Shannon College.
One student today, Carol O’Connell, from Killarney was awarded the $10,000 Banfi Foundation Scholarship from the Castello Banfi vineyards, Tuscany that will enable her pursue post-graduate studies at the School of Hotel Administration in Cornell University, New York. The total scholarship prize fund was €18,000.
In his address Dr Smyth assured them that they are embarking on careers in an industry that has positive growth forecasts despite Brexit uncertainty. “There is undoubtedly going to be an impact from Brexit for the industry and it’s already being felt but overall tourism is going to weather this storm a lot better than other sectors,” he told students.
“Exchange rates are already a challenge but this is a flexible industry and the major plus for tourism is the growth of travel. There’s very significant growth in inbound tourism, particularly from the likes of the US and Europe so we are confident that will offset any effect that Brexit is having. But it is also very important that state agencies tasked with promoting Ireland as a destination overseas receive sufficient funding to compete.”
Also speaking at today’s event, Colm Hannon, who is overseeing one of the most eagerly awaited investments in the hotel sector in Ireland for over a decade with the redevelopment of Adare Manor Resort, said that the five star hotel sector, in particular, is very much insulated against Brexit impact.
“We are a little different in that the UK market made up a lower percentage of our business in the past, somewhere in the region of 10%. Approximately 65% of our business has been from the US and that will continue to be the lion’s share of the Adare Manor market. By and large, our end of the market will overcome any Brexit impact through growth in other areas,” he stated.
“There are obviously risk factors with Brexit and one of the areas of concern are travel conveniences for certain nations when they come to the UK who have the right to link into Ireland without needing any additional approvals. When the UK is out of the EU that may well not apply so that is a challenge we need to deal with. Ironically we actually see growth opportunity in the UK as we believe there is potential to grow our market there, particularly now that we are creating a five-star conferencing and banqueting offering.”
The Adare Manor CEO has a deep association with the college, having graduated from it 30 years ago. His wife Sue is also a graduate and their two children, Shane and Ciara are currently studying there. “This is a special place. While it is largely up to the individual after they leave here, every graduate goes with a Shannon College badge that has very strong international currency,” he added.
Meanwhile, NUI Galway President Dr James Browne announced at today’s event that the college has launched Ireland’s first University-awarded post-experience certificate course in Hotel Leadership. This course provides hotel managers and senior hotel staff with a practical and implementable understanding of leadership as it applies to the hotel and hospitality sector today.
It is the only University-awarded Certificate programme, exclusively for hoteliers, developed and delivered in Ireland. This is a very welcome initiative – an innovative programme that is led by leading industry experts.