Visitor Attraction degree provides foundation for a thrilling career

Staffordshire University and Alton Towers Resort are helping to put students on the right track for a thrilling career

Graduates pictured in their cap and gowns in front of The Curse of Alton Manor

This year's Visitor Attraction and Resort Management cohort graduated on The Curse at Alton Manor ride

The modules cover so much including business strategy, operations, marketing, HR. Anyone who wants to get into the industry, no matter your interests, it is all covered.

Leigh Haynes, BA (Hons) Visitor Attraction and Resort Management

The BA (Hons) Visitor Attraction and Resort Management course provides an opportunity to enter the travel and tourism industry through a unique degree partnership between Staffordshire University and one of Britain’s most popular attractions.

This year’s cohort celebrated their graduation in style onboard the theme park’s newest ride, the Curse of Alton Manor, complete with caps and gowns.

Among them were Leigh Haynes and Jake Dawkins who are about to embark on a final year of study to top-up to a bachelor’s degree after graduating from the two-year foundation degree.

Leigh, 22, from Wolverhampton, said: “We’re all so close, so graduating with your best friends like that was amazing!”

Jake commented: “Who else gets to say they graduated on a ride – it was so cool! It really encapsulates the whole experience.”

Students on the degree gain exclusive insight into how Alton Towers Resort operates as a business through guaranteed paid work placements alongside their studies.

After dropping out of college, Leigh began working at Alton Towers and was inspired to apply for the course after meeting current students on placement.

Leigh explained: “My friends on the course told me how good it was and how the placement opportunities allow you go into different departments and try different roles.

“The modules cover so much including business strategy, operations, marketing, HR. Anyone who wants to get into the industry, no matter your interests, it is all covered.”

Leigh is now working on promotion of the upcoming Oktoberfest event and hopes to progress to a masters degree in marketing abroad.

“When I was at school, people didn’t think I’d ever go to uni let alone look into doing a masters. I’ve proved so many people wrong already and shown that I can do it.”

Jake, originally from Southampton, chose the course after working at a theme park in his hometown, Paulton’s Park.

Jake has worked in a variety of roles and special events, including the opening of the new CBeebies Land and Mardi Gras. He also had chance to work at the resort’s hotel and be part of promotional videos for the final night of Nemesis. At his second Scarefest, Jake was promoted to attraction supervisor for the Altonville Mine Tours.

Now, Jake is a Multiskilling Coordinator working with colleagues across departments to respond to the needs of the business and manage where staff are placed across the resort.

“Having performed in Scarefest in my first year, I was then managing the whole attraction, the performers, the host team and the show captains a year later. It was a great opportunity!

“The fact you can go through departments has definitely unlocked a lot more doors and prepared me for the role I’m doing now.”

After graduating, Jake hopes to get a place on Merlin Entertainments’ XCalibre Rising programme which prepares employees for managerial positions.

He added: “Merlin is a global brand and I want to go around the world and try my hand at different jobs at different attractions. I never want to stand still and this course has opened up so many opportunities.”

For further information regarding the Visitor Attraction and Resort Management course please contact the Course Leader Amanda Payne on Discover more about studying at Staffordshire University at an Open Day – book your place.

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