In March students from IFT organised a series of free, guided tours of Macao’s Historic Centre. The activity series – “Tour around Macao with IFT Students” – attracted tourists from a number of places, and provided for those undergraduates involved valuable practical experience of working in the tourism sector.
The tours were organised by 3 groups of students in Year 2 of the Tourism Business Management bachelor degree programme, and took place on 2, 9 and 17 March.
The activity was the result of more than a month of planning and coordination. Each group had around 8 students, and each group led in total one morning tour and one afternoon tour. While the morning route was identical for all groups, covering 6 scenic points between Senado Square and Mount Fortress, each group was able to design independently the route for its respective afternoon tour.
Tours were available in at least 3 languages, with each excursion lasting around 90 minutes. Promotion was made on the spot prior to the start of each tour, through leaflets and a banner, to arouse interest from nearby tourists or locals.
“This was a great opportunity for students to reach out and experience what it is like to design and give a proper guided tour,” says Dr. Frances Kong, who led the students on the project. “All the planning and organisation related with the tours put their knowledge, management skills and teamwork capabilities to the test. The tours encouraged students to be detail-focused, and to be thoughtful throughout the different stages of preparing and delivering an event.”
To help students improve their management performance, tourists participating in each tour were asked to provide feedback about the activity. After each tour, a debriefing session was held with the undergraduates involved, in order to discuss what had been achieved by the exercise, and if necessary, to make adjustments in approach.
“Most students showed improvement in their second tour,” says Dr. Kong. “Some of them might have been too shy to invite people to join in for the morning tour, some of them might have been speaking too softly, some of them might not have been so good with time keeping and so on, but I noticed an obvious improvement in the way that they handled the second tour. The overall feedback we received from the tourists was fairly positive.”
Students dedicated many hours of preparation work to ensure a smooth delivery of the guided tours. In the end, it paid off, says Patrick Lei, one of the undergraduates involved.
“While I was standing in front of St. Dominic’s Church, talking about it with my group, I noticed many passers-by also stopping to listen to me. That moment truly lifted my spirit,” says Patrick. “I felt a bit shy at first, but I adjusted quite well afterward. It’s all about practice: the more confidently I spoke, the more interesting the tour became.”
Fellow-undergraduate Hemans Yeung says she also had to step out of her comfort zone during the tour series, in order to explain the history behind a few scenic spots to an English-speaking tourist.
“I was quite nervous. There were a lot of proper names and related information to remember for each tourist attraction; on top of that, I was presenting in English,” she says. “It was quite challenging, but once it was through, I felt good about my little achievement.”
Participants were also happy with the way tours were conducted. “The students did a pretty good job organising the tour,” says Mr. Lai, one of the tourists joining in. “Guided tours can be too stressful or the flow too compressed at times, but for the one I had, it all went well: information was on point and the vibe was light-hearted,” he says.
The “Tour around Macao with IFT Students” series is a settled activity of the IFT Tourism Business Management bachelor degree programme, having been held for a number of years. It is part of IFT’s well-established, innovative approach to teaching, whereby theory and practice are integrated. Students are invited to experience real situations and confront real challenges by undertaking hands-on projects, thereby developing pan-curricular skills while collaborating in groups.