During the official opening ceremony which was aired online, the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) opened the academic year 2020-2021. This year, the institute has recorded its highest intake to date. When compared to the previous year, the institute recorded a 22.2% increase and a 136% increase from the academic year 2018-2019.
The highest increase in new applications may be seen most notably in the Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree programmes, which have 316 students. The institute has also received a high number of applications for the newly launched programmes; the Diploma in Climate Friendly Travel, the Bachelor of Science in Diving Safety Management and the Preparatory Course for the Bachelor in Culinary Arts, with 61 applications spread across the three programmes.
Out of all the full-time students, 25% are foreigners from 67 different nations. Some of these students will be following their lectures online, due to Covid-19 related travel restrictions. This is thanks to the heavy investment in the ITS technological infrastructure, which will also be used by all other students as certain lectures may be attended in a hybrid way of learning.
Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli attended the official opening of the academic year and addressed the students. The Minister welcomed the highest registered intake by ITS and said that these numbers confirm the importance that the hospitality and tourism industry has in the Maltese islands.
ITS CEO Pierre Fenech said that, in a new normal, ITS has opened its doors to even more students this year. He stated that the institute has worked hard over the past months to prepare for the campus opening, with new protocols in place which have been already been tested with success during the September recovery sessions.
ITS student council president Chris Mercieca addressed the students by saying that they are all here because they have faith in the future of the tourism industry of the Maltese islands and they want to assure that they are prepared once the tourism industry is up and running normally again.
ITS Chairman Carlo Micallef said that; “In the past months, we’ve had to change the way we learn, work and socialise. We also experienced fear, as bad news about the pandemic and its effects on people’s health and welfare dominated headlines. Challenges, however, create opportunities to be innovative and enterprising. It is this culture that ITS promotes with its students. Let’s make treasure of the difficulties we face to be stronger and better prepared for the future. ITS will continue to lead the way supporting its students achieve the levels of excellence needed for Malta and Gozo’s tourism industry after Covid-19.”
At the end of the ceremony, Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli walked around the campus and spoke to several students who were in the classrooms. At this time, the Minister took the opportunity to also meet a number of students who were participating in the lecture virtually through the online system. This is thanks to the protocols put in place by ITS administration, with a number of students following lectures virtually on rotation and others given the option to choose whether to follow their lecture on campus or online, so as to limit the number of students in a classroom.