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Meet Vanessa Barnett: Our wonderful new Course Advisor at the City Campus!

Posted on 03/05/2023 by

Meet Vanessa, our new Course Advisor at the City Campus.

The team at ITC and Study From Home is filled with incredible people who have worked all over the world, in all kinds of fascinating travel and tourism roles.

A perfect example is our newest Course Advisor at the City Campus, Vanessa Barnett. Bitten early by the travel bug, Vanessa went on to earn an Advanced Diploma in Travel and Tourism with ITC before spending many years working in wholesale travel, exploring some of the most far-flung destinations in the world as part of her work.

Needless to say, her stories and passion are sure to inspire many students and graduates. Here’s a little more about her story and just what she has to offer ITC and Study From Home.

How did you begin your passion for the tourism industry?

I’d always wanted to travel since I was a kid. So as soon as I could, I left home on the traditional Kiwi OE where I spent 4 years living in Dublin and London, but there was still so much of the world I wanted to see.

So WAAAYYY back in 2002 I enrolled at ITC and got my ‘Advanced Diploma in Travel and Tourism’, so after nearly 20yrs in the industry I have truly come full circle!

What does your travel industry history look like?

After graduating ITC, the employment services team got my foot in the door at Go Holidays, where I was able to learn about the role that wholesale plays within the travel industry – and is a sector I remained in for my entire travel career.

After learning the ropes at Go, an opportunity came for me to move to Adventure World, starting in the finals and documentation department before quickly moving into wholesale reservations, where I specialised in Africa and South & Central America – and in fact, I remained a travel specialist in these areas throughout my travel career.

That’s the fantastic thing about working in wholesale – a travel agent needs to know a little bit about a lot of destinations; so being able to go work with a wholesale team who specialise in one destination and knows it really well is invaluable for their clients. And of course, to know a destination, you need to travel there. My first famil was to Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, where I was lucky enough to spend 4 days on the Amazon onboard the Desafio, a classic schooner ship where I caught and ate a piranha, made friends with a 5ft anaconda and watched a pod of pink Amazonian dolphins play around the boat as the sun rose.

I remained at Adventure World for 11 years, and during that time, I had the opportunity to travel to a lot of diverse countries, including Borneo (both Sabah and Sarawak—where I attended a music festival in the jungle, visited an Orangutan sanctuary, and released baby turtles), Chile, Peru (visiting the spectacular Machu Picchu), Bolivia (crossing Lake Titicaca and eating guinea pig), South Africa (where I travelled overland from Johannesburg to Cape Town), China (visiting the amazing Terracotta Warriors) and Hong Kong (shopping, anyone?). 

My next opportunity arose in the wholesale adventure department at House of Travel, again specialising in Africa and South & Central America, plus we looked after overland tour bookings with companies such as Intrepid, Explore Worldwide and GAdventures.

I still have a huge passion in these areas and I could talk for hours about the amazing cultural sites in Peru, how wonderful the steak and red wine is in Argentina, the diversity of flora and fauna within South Africa and the best places to see wild dogs in Botswana.

How will your experience help support students?

Having been a student here at ITC myself (albeit before some of our current students were even born) I can share with the students how invaluable this experience was for me and where it can take them.

Also, I think a lot of students come to us with knowledge about the more “well-known” aspects of working in the tourism industry – being a flight attendant, a travel agent or tour guide – but few, if any, know about the wholesale sector and the ability to specialise in an area they’re passionate about.

I can’t wait to tell them all about the amazing famils I’ve been able to go on – places I probably would never have had the opportunity to go to otherwise! 

What do you think are the most important skills to have in the tourism industry?

Passion! If you have a passion for travel, or for a particular area of the world, or even for showcasing the amazing things we have on offer here in Aotearoa, then that will take you far in the industry.

Depending on where you end up, you’ll also need flexibility and a willingness to adapt. There are so many different roles, areas and aspects to the travel industry, you’ll truly never know where you could end up! 

Having empathy for your clients is essential too – I know that in the roles I have had, I always tried to keep at the forefront of my mind that although this is just another day in the office for me; the itinerary I’m putting together is someone’s dream holiday – they may have spent years putting money aside for their trip of a lifetime – so no matter if it’s your 10th booking that week, it could well be that clients first time out of the country!!

What’s next for the tourism industry?

Covid dealt such a blow to the entire industry worldwide, but it’s back better and brighter than before. People have become so much more environmentally, socially and culturally conscious, and have had the past three years to really think about the impact we have had on our planet, and what kind of impact we want to have in the future; which has had a really positive effect on tourism.

Gone are the days where animals and people are used as tourist commodities and exploited. Instead indigenous cultures are being empowered to tell their own story to visitors, rather than being show-cased as a tourist “attraction” and animals and their native environment are being protected. Sustainable tourism, wildlife conversation projects and community projects are now a huge growth area for tourism – which is a fantastic thing to see!
 
What is your best advice for those getting into the industry now?

They couldn’t have picked a better time with so many sectors of the industry crying out for dedicated and passionate newcomers to fill their ranks now that our borders are back open and travellers are ready to get back out there! Because the industry is so varied – just because you start at a particular point doesn’t mean that you won’t end up somewhere totally different.

Experience within the industry is really important – and whatever you learn you will take with you – your skills will be transferrable. You may start out at the airport check-in and end up being a tour guide in Europe – you just never know! Honestly, the options are endless, you never know where Travel & Tourism will take you.

Study with ITC or Study From Home

Vanessa’s incredible international experiences, time at ITC, and passion for the industry as a whole make her the perfect person to become a Course Advisor for our students. We know she will not just inspire students and graduates, but help them to find the best journeys for them as well.

At ITC and Study From Home, our entire team is filled with professionals just like Vanessa. Everyone has experience in the travel and tourism industry in some way, with endless dedication to helping students and graduates get the most out of their careers.

Take a look at the courses we offer and where they might take you, or get in touch with any questions today.

Campus Study – college@itc.co.nz 0800 TOURISM (0800 868747) or https://www.itc.co.nz/contact-us/

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