Take a trip with Ashleigh Williams!
The travelling bug bit Ashleigh Williams at a young age and lead her to a career in the tourism industry. Read her story…
What made you decide to study Tourism Management?
When I was younger my family and I immigrated to New Zealand and we traveled to a few countries before settling there. Since that experience, I developed a strong passion for travel. I absolutely loved going to the airport and got a complete thrill out of seeing the airplanes take off and was in utter awe when seeing the airhostesses in their uniforms. I decided after school, airhostessing is what I want to do, being able to travel and see the world and get paid for it- what better job for me!
Understanding that airhostessing has a limited life span as a career, I felt tourism would be the perfect industry to fall back on after and where I could continue working in an environment where my passion will live strong.
Did you enjoy it?
I enjoyed my course yes, it involved a lot of dimensions that tourism as a whole links up to, which I found very interesting. Such as events, the growing wine industry in the world and South Africa especially and then ofcourse, hospitality, which was a second study path for me.
What are you planning to do with your qualification now?
The plan is to do 2 to 3 years of airhostessing to gain more knowledge and first hand experience in travelling to a variety of countries and fulfilling my dream. Thereafter, I’d like to work on opening my own tour company.
What have been the best and worst parts of your experience so far?
The best part: learning and discovering myself in so many aspects of tourism that I never thought I’d find interesting, such as the wine industry, which I now have created my own concept of a business around.
Worst, the struggle in finding a job, questioning myself, the decision in going this direction with my life and my dream of traveling.
Describe your journey from Matric to where you are now:
I matriculated in 2008 at Fairmont High School. In 2009 I started my studies in Tourism Management at Boland College in Stellenbosch. During my course we had to do a lot of internships as our practical. To name a few, I interned at Britsish Airways, Diemersdal Wine farm and Villiera Wine farm, where I was fortunate enough to get asked to stay on and where I am still today, as a casual in their tasting room as a wine host and where I get to participate in numerous events in the wine industry, which is quite cool and interesting! I finished my course in 2010 and graduated in May this year. To date, I am unfortunetly still out of permanent employment. It’s been an extremely tough year for me in that getting into the airlines. I was told that due to the legal age limit for alcohol over seas, which is 21, I was not qualifying as I only turn 21 in October this year. Since that is around the corner, I can only pray and hope that I’ll be able to take on my dream and take the neccessary steps required in getting all my future plans under way.
What were your school subjects, and which ones were your favourite?
English, Afrikaans, Life Orientation, Maths Literacy, Accounting, Business Economics and Computer Applications Technology (CAT), my school didn’t offer Tourism as a subject. Out of them though, I’d have to say Maths was never a strong point for me, so Business and Computers would have to be my favourite.
What is your dream destination you’d like to travel to?
I’d love to travel to Brazil and experience their festive culture and way of life, which apparently is a lot like ours here in Cape Town.
Secondly, I’d like to travel all through Asia and exprience not only their natural beauty but the beauty in all the diverse cultures their continent consists of. They have such stunning traditions in each culture, which I find so fascinating and will truly love to learn much more about on a first hand basis.
If you had 5 minutes to pack for a trip, what are the items you wouldn’t leave behind?
Camera, my phone and of course my charger along with it. I’d have to say my GHD!
What’s your advice to learners who are considering getting into the travel and tourism industry?
This is such an interesting industry to go in to, you never stop learning new things as it provides so many different dimensions. With that being said, in Cape Town, specifically, it is a tough industry to break into as it is really congested in terms of tour companies that really offer the same thing.
So I would say, be open to learing and experiencing everything you’re able to and from there find your niche, and work with it. The tourism industry is all about finding a loop hole and offering something new and different to the public and market it extremely well.