Tourism Consultancy in France is a professional career. To understand the increasing professionalisation of tourism management and the intellectual creativity required for roles in tourism, this heritage paper explains the emerging links between higher education and the work of the tourism engineer. The term engineer is now applied to qualified, practising tourism consultants in France.
The Département of Finistère’s Strategic Plan for Tourism Development (Finistère 2008) alerts its readers to the advanced scientific level reached by tourism consultancy in France by explaining that it contracts to qualified specialists in this field, MaHoC. MaHoC are a Paris-based tourist engineering consultancy (mahoc.com) who, in turn, gain accreditation from Géfil (gefil.org). Géfil is the Syndicat National de l’Ingénierie Loisirs Culture Tourisme and has links into the degree and postgraduate teaching at the University of Angers and the Institute of Research and Higher Studies in Tourism at the University of Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne. Géfil manage the accreditation of company qualifications in what is considered engineering in France in the field of leisure, culture and tourism in turn from OPQIBI (opqibi.com). OPQIBI is the national organisation for all company engineering qualifications across building, industry, energy, environment and tourism, and a membership organisation for engineering companies. Through OPQIBI’s online database local councils can select and view consultancy firms based on specific qualifications. For example, selecting the qualification ‘Interpretation and valorisation in leisure, culture and tourism’ yields ten small companies accredited to perform this work as maîtres d’ouvrage (principal contractors).
A direct financial relationship exists between the universities that teach tourism and the tourism industry via the apprenticeship tax. The apprenticeship tax has to be paid by companies employing one or more employees. This tax must not be confused with the tax paid by the employers for the development of in-service training. Apprenticeship tax is 0.5% of the gross payroll calculated on the previous calendar year. It can be paid to the state, or employers can choose to pay it directly to a university, for example, for tourism companies, the Institute of Research and Higher Studies in Tourism at the University of Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Although, as the above discussion shows, France is strongly centred around its institutions, a technically literate workforce means that the adoption of new technologies in very rapid. For example, a privately-owned publisher and social media network, Rezotour.com, also manages the publication of the main French academic journal aimed at tourism – the revue, Mondes du tourisme. The Paris-based Rezotour portal brings together academics, job seekers in the tourism industry, tourist information offices, offers of work placements (stagiaires) in tourism, invitations to tender for tourism development work or to supply equipment and a calendar of events in the industry and academia.