Cooper and Shepherd (1999) assessed sustainable tourism and hospitality education decades ago highlighting the raft between the market needs and educational programmes. The tourism and hospitality industry witnessed several transitions, while educational practices remained at a stand-still mode. Even in well-developed tourism markets, educational programmes were not reconsidered to accommodate this change (Mínguez, Martínez-Hernandez, & Yubero, 2021). The tourism and hospitality industry in the Gulf Cooperation Council States (hereinafter mentioned as GCC) provides excellence in service delivery. Therefore, this study aims to assess the future of tourism and hospitality education in the GCC region. The research discusses the tourism and hospitality landscapes and the current market dynamics, in the context of educational programmes relating to tourism and hospitality.

To achieve the aim of this study, five interviews were conducted with academic professionals in universities in the GCC region. In addition, a questionnaire was distributed to students in both universities to gain their perception about the subject at hand. A total of 29 responses were collected. Results revealed that current education programmes in the GCC region to a certain extent reflect a sustainable approach, yet more focus should be given to the sustainability factor while maintaining core academic subjects. Furthermore, this study shows that students and industry stakeholders’ engagement is essential to ensure sustainable educational programmes match the expectations of all relevant parties. Also, the results highlighted the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors when it comes to developing sustainable education programmes in tourism and hospitality in the GCC region. Encouraging students’ engagement in developing sustainable tourism and hospitality education programmes will foster creativity and critical thinking amongst students, driving the development of the industry as a whole. Finally, this study revealed that there are six determinants of sustainable tourism and hospitality education in the GCC region namely, (1) changes in technology, (2) socio-economic state of affairs of tourism and hospitality, (3) changes in market dynamics, and (4) customers’ preferences.


Sustainability, Tourism Education, Critical Thinking, Innovation, Creativity, Economic and Social Development