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The Future of Tourism Internships: Cautious Openings and Digital Shifts

Published:24 June 2020

Photo by Mimi Thian

Since the lockdowns and quarantines instituted as a result of COVID-19, it is estimated that the European tourism industry will be hit the hardest economically speaking, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. With a lot of European countries still battling the virus, the feature looks quite uncertain for those seeking internships to jumpstart their careers. As such, it is critical to take note of how internships are going to change. So what changes are already being felt in the tourism sector?

Internship Cancellations and Postponements

When the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to spike around February, one of the first things enacted upon by the European Parliament was to cancel the internships of those coming from countries hit hardest like China, Singapore, South Korea, and others, as per a statement made by a European Parliament Spokesperson. This is not a unique situation as would-be Italian interns have their internships delayed by about 7 months. Instead of the anticipated start in March, the tentative date was moved to October. With most organisations still observing how the pandemic is affecting their areas, internships will either remain postponed or cancelled altogether.

Additional Skill Set Requirements

With most travellers steadily focussed on keeping safe and healthy, interns are eventually going back into the workforce with more consumer needs than before. As such, hopeful interns should know that there will be additional skill sets required to remain an attractive candidate. Interns need to empower themselves with additional skills like photoshop, digital marketing, resource management, video editing, excel proficiency, according to PATA Youth. Most tourism industries in Europe have needed to cut manpower. When they are ready to open again, they will prioritise applications from interns with more skill sets to cover more bases than most.

Remote Internships

A bright light at the end of the uncertain COVID-19 tunnel is the opportunity for remote internships. With most European countries still on lockdown or in the process of easing up their restrictions, most businesses are still unable to return to their physical locations. This, however, does not mean that they had to stop operating altogether. Instead, they had to quickly adapt remote operations where interns can learn and apply skills while remaining in the safety of their homes. For example, the interns of the EU’s Erasmus Program are able to complete their studies and their internships remotely. The greatest disappointment of the interns, however, is their inability to mingle and truly partake in their chosen European culture. Despite this, they count themselves fortunate to be able to push forward with their internship plans.

With there being no clear end to the global pandemic, it is expected that more shifts will occur in the future—especially in the tourism industry. This is why interns must stay ahead of the curve and remain proactive to make themselves attractive candidates in the embattled EU market. If there is anything that is certain, the coming times will see massive changes in how small and large tourism companies are going to enlist interns and rally toward profitability.


Katlyn Hudson



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