Many Institute of Travel and Tourism (ITT) members believe new entrants to the industry are better off learning on the job than attending university.
In a survey of 200 ITT members, Professor Rhodri Thomas of Leeds Metropolitan University found one in three thought graduates did not add to the professionalism of the sector. They said courses were too theoretical and nothing beat experience at work.
However, four out of five thought the industry should have a recognised qualification.
Thomas told delegates at the ITT conference that qualifications appeared to be more highly valued in professions such as financial services, law and accountancy.
“Their associations attempt to control entry to an occupation and police the competence of professionals once admitted,” he said.
Thomas argued that long periods of training, codes of ethics and requirements that expertise remain current are characteristic of most professional associations, adding: “A conspicuously professional sector is more likely to attract more, and better-quality, entrants.”
In a survey of 900 students, the professor found only 20% knew what the letters ITT stood for.