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Where are they now? James Arnold, EMTM 2017-2019

April, 18 2024
EMTM 2017-2019

EMTM Alumni go in different directions after they graduate. In the blog series "Where are they now?" EMTM Alumni share their career development stories.

James Arnold from generation 2017-2019 shares about the first steps in his career after EMTM. 

Where are they now? James Arnold, EMTM 2017-2019

Name: James Arnold
Country: UK
Age: 28
Bachelor's degree: Tourism Management at the University of Surrey
EMTM cohort: 2017-2019

- Why did you decide to apply for EMTM? 

I stumbled upon the EMTM programme by accident when reading a report about the impact of EU funding on the tourism sector. Having never previously heard of Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degrees, I found the concept intriguing as I’ve had a lifelong interest in learning about different countries and their cultures. Being able to experience life in vastly different countries on opposite corners of Europe and observe first hand the diversity of the continent was an opportunity that felt unmissable. What provided an even more compelling argument for me to apply was the strong sustainability focus integrated throughout the EMTM programme, with the ability to gain different perspectives from the respective knowledge sets of the academics at all three universities, alongside the numerous visiting professors, which I hoped would support my ambition to start a career in the field of sustainable tourism. 

- What is your best EMTM memory?

It’s hard to pick only one as each university brought a different learning experience, but the camaraderie between all students helped us to adapt and thrive in each location, with ample time spent socialising alongside our studies. In Denmark, the freedom to conduct research into topics that I had personal interests in made working on assignments feel highly insightful and of great value, not only academically but also in light of my professional ambitions. In Slovenia, the highlight must be attending ITB Berlin and witnessing the full scale of the industry at the world’s largest tourism trade fair, obtaining practical experience of navigating this complex environment and learning key tips for preparing to attend future exhibitions. In Spain, the practical field trips were exciting, effectively blending leisure experiences with learning opportunities; a high point being the opportunity to pitch our research to a representative from Andorra Tourism, the national DMO of Andorra. While in the final semester, the opportunity to travel to Canada and understand yet another culture through living with a host family topped off the EMTM experience.

- What was your next step after EMTM?

The day after returning home from graduation I had an interview with the European Travel Commission (ETC) and was successful in securing an internship in the Research and Development department, moving to Brussels the following month. In this role, I advised the national tourism organisations of Europe, providing insights on the evolving status of European tourism, travel sentiment and trends in key source markets and on implementing sustainable tourism initiatives. Only a few months into the role, COVID-19 decimated the sector, with my department growing in strategic importance to share knowledge and guidance that supported tourism’s eventual recovery. This internship turned into a permanent role, where I was given additional responsibilities to lead different projects. My favourite achievement during this role was the launch of the UN Tourism-ETC DataLab Europe initiative in June 2022, of which I was part of the working group that brought the collaboration from an initial idea to its practical implementation, delivering strong engagement among European NTOs and NTAs.

- How did the EMTM programme help you in your professional career? 

EMTM has played an extremely influential role in my career journey. Firstly, the programme’s industry connections helped me to secure a summer internship with Glamping Hub at the end of the first year, where I even met another EMTMer in the same department. Secondly, the EMTM alumni network shares job and PhD opportunities, which is the prime reason for me learning about the ETC internship programme – providing a direct connection to my first job after graduating. Finally, independent research during the Tourism Innovation and New Product Management module made me aware of the Digital Tourism Think Tank and I subscribed to their newsletter, ultimately revisiting the site a few years later and seeing a job opening that I successfully applied for. This post-EMTM journey has culminated in recognition by TTG Media in the 2023 cohort of their 30 Under 30 Programme aimed at identifying Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders. 

- What is your current job and what do you like the most about it? What are the main tasks?

I’m a Digital Trends Analyst at the Digital Tourism Think Tank where I’m privileged to contribute towards various transformative innovation projects, with a focus on destination development, digital strategies and the uptake of horizon technologies in tourism. As a company with many pillars, the role is multifaceted, from sharing insights with members and helping support the development of leadership programmes to assisting in the organisation and operation of events that prioritise the exchange of diverse perspectives. Other routine jobs include writing opinion features and case studies for the website and working on consultancy projects through conducting surveys, assisting with workshops and writing detailed reports. While this job encapsulates lots of different aspects, this is actually a large part of its appeal, complemented by working in a small team that is very friendly and collaborative.

Written by James Arnold (UK), Alumnus of EMTM Generation 2017-2019

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