February 10, 2011 | | Leave a comment Every time you go on vacation at some point you ask yourself “Why can’t I find a job that allows me to have this much fun all the time?” Well actually, it turns out you can. Even with the economy in recovery mode careers in tourism are rising in popularity. In fact, it’s because of the economy that people rely on tourism specialists more than ever. With discretionary income in low supply people can’t afford expensive mistakes when they finally decide to spend money on recreation. It used to be that when anyone thought of a career in tourism they immediately conjured up a travel agent. However, with the Internet people can arrange their own travel tickets and accommodations directly with the airlines and hotels. So where’s the hot, new career in tourism then? It’s in specialty travel and events. Schools such as University of Phoenix and Kaplan University offer specialized travel and tourism college degree programs that emphasize event planning and hospitality. In 2011 a career in tourism doesn’t mean just being a travel agent who knows the best deals (anybody has access to that online). Instead 2011 college degrees in tourism are all about adding value to a client’s vacation or event and at the same time saving them even more money than if they made their plans themselves. As a result new careers have evolved in the tourism industry, opening the door to a whole new series of specialized education in both college undergraduate and masters degrees. As a sample, here are three jobs in the tourism industry that have morphed into full-fledged lucrative careers. Tour Manager At first glance you may think this is simply another name for a travel agent, but really it’s much more. Tour managers not only make travel arrangements, they often travel with their clients (or meet them at their clients’ destinations) to make sure everything goes exactly as planned. For example, traveling theatre companies and bands often use tour managers; and not just Broadway shows and famous rock stars, but also touring high school and college bands, as well as small, regional touring theatre companies. On a smaller scale, many executives who travel abroad on business hire local tour managers to make sure they get where they need to be. Similar to an office assistant at home, a tour manager who knows the area, the local people, and all the cultural loopholes is invaluable to a business traveler who doesn’t have time to bumble around figuring out everything for himself. Another popular use of tour managers is when people take exotic vacations like African safaris or excursions through Central American rain forests. In these cases, a tour manager who knows the country, local language, and customs is almost required. It could mean the difference between having a great time and figuring out how to bail yourself out of a foreign jail (if you inadvertently break a local law). Event Planner Everything from large corporate trade shows to family gatherings (such as a bar mitzvah, wedding, or birthday party) can benefit from the use of an event planner. An event planner is the go-to person who not only finds the best deals on the services you need (such as locations, caterers, entertainment, florists, etc.), but is also on hand to handle any problems that come up during your event. So why would someone pay an event planner to put together a party they could do themselves? Because event planners typically get better vendor deals than the average Joe, and they usually offer packages that can save their clients a ton of money. In the corporate world companies are looking for ways to offer perks to their employees and customers in lieu of raises and slashed prices. In a pinch they turn to event planners. A good event planner knows the latest trends in entertainment and how to provide it without breaking the bank. And although a party isn’t as great as a raise, at least it’s something an employer can do to show he appreciates his staff. Hospitality Manager Hotels, resorts, and cruise ships all rely heavily on their hospitality staff to make sure their guests are happy. Sometimes called the concierge, a hospitality professional sets up special events for groups of guests (like an aprÃ¨s ski party at a ski resort or a theme party on a cruise ship) or makes specific arrangements for individual guests (such as dinner or theatre reservations). They’re also on hand to answer any questions about the local scene and at the finer hotels will even accommodate a guest’s special needs. Increasingly more hotels are hiring trained hospitality staff because it’s a relatively inexpensive way to add value to their guests’ stay. It’s cheaper than putting in a gym, for example, and a fraction of the cost of a hotel remodel. So if 2011 is the year you go back to college to study for a new career, you may want to check out a degree in tourism and event planning. Not only will there be jobs waiting for you when you’re done, just think of the killer party you could throw for yourself after you graduate.