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October 25, 2019 11:09 AM

Tourism students explore local destinations

First-year students in Conestoga’s Tourism - Destinations & Travel Management program visited The Old Post Office in Cambridge on October 17 as part of their Local Tourism Destinations course. The course is new to the program and provides students with an opportunity to experience first-hand the daily business operations within various sectors of the hospitality and tourism industry.

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Students in the Tourism - Destinations & Travel Management program used green screens and virtual reality tools during a recent visit to the Idea Exchange at the Old Post Office in Cambridge. The visit was used to gain insight about how tourist attractions are managed and marketed.

Faculty member Cora Roselli said students use the visits to analyze and inspect local tourist sites and attractions to understand how they are managed, marketed and offered as a tourism product. They also gain valuable insight about the role of attractions in tourism, job functions as well as any challenges and management issues surrounding them.

Other excursions this term involved the Scenic Caves in Collingwood, the Royal Ontario Museum and Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto and a number of local attractions including Schneider Haus, Doon Village and St. Jacobs Market.

“This group of students is the first cohort to experience the course and they’ve loved every one of our field trips,” said Roselli. “Each trip was unique and they enjoyed learning about the operation, sales, marketing and challenges of different types of attractions both locally and in the GTA.”

During their trip to the Old Post Office, students met with manager Laura Knudsen who shared the history of the building and the vision of the space now. The Idea Exchange at the Old Post Office is Canada’s first bookless library and is representative of libraries that have started to emerge over the last decade - spaces that introduce the public to new, and often expensive, technology so users can acquire hands-on experiences and build their digital literacy skills.

As Knudsen pointed out, new libraries across the globe are also transforming skylines with their unique architecture, drawing tourism as well as accolades from the architecture community. The Old Post Office has won numerous architecture and design awards, including the 2018 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence, and has already attracted 100,000 visitors this year.

Located on the banks of the Grand River in downtown Galt, the post office was built in 1885. The national historic site fell into disrepair, but in an effort to preserve the historic building, a collaboration between the City of Cambridge and Idea Exchange led to a transformative project that rehabilitated the original 9,000 square foot building and added another 9,000 square feet through the addition of a contemporary pavilion that floats above the Grand River.

The building now provides local residents with a cultural centre that offers hands-on activities and free access to creative studios, a children’s discovery centre and a makerspace that houses a 3D printer, laser printer, embroidery machine, design computers and a collection of hand tools, among other equipment.

Following their meeting with Knudsen, students toured the facility and met with staff in the various creative spaces to learn more about the community programs offered and how the building is utilized.

Conestoga’s two-year Tourism - Destinations & Travel Management diploma program provides students with an overview of the hospitality and tourism industry along with entry-level management skills for this very diverse and integrated industry. Students receive a broad base of business and entrepreneur skills ensuring a strong understanding of financial, customer service, marketing and the human resources aspects of the industry.

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