In conversation with Karleigh Davies about her career in Welsh Tourism…
Cardiff Met alumna Karleigh shares her rewarding career journey from studying tourism management to becoming a destination management and marketing manager in Wales.
Why did you choose to study tourism at Cardiff Met?
I chose Cardiff Met (UWIC back then) for three main reasons really; (1) I love Cardiff as a city, (2) the overall course offered me a broader spectrum of learning than other universities and (3) it wasn’t too far from home (Port Talbot) if I got homesick!
Tell us about your work training and teaching in tourism?
When I completed my BA (Hons) Tourism Management I was delighted to obtain a First Class grade. Teaching in further/ higher education had always appealed to me, so as soon as I finished my degree I decided to complete a PGCE in post 16 education. I was lucky to be offered a teaching practice placement back at Cardiff Met and got to experience the university in a teaching capacity too.
After I completed my PGCE I decided that, although I loved teaching, I really needed to build up experience working in the tourism industry. As a result, I started working part-time as an Exhibition Assistant at Techniquest Science Centre in Cardiff Bay whilst also teaching tourism in higher and further education. Following this, I secured my first full-time job working for the Tourism Training Forum for Wales’ Gallu project which aimed to upskill tourism operators in South West Wales.
In 2007, as funding for the Gallu project was coming to an end, I secured employment in Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council’s Tourism Department. Over the past 11 years we have seen our fair share of challenges in the Tourism Team, including a brief hiatus as a result of funding cuts between 2014 and 2016. Looking to the future I would love to go back to teaching, but see this more as part of my 20 year plan – I’m just enjoying my current work too much to give it up just yet!
What do you enjoy about your current job?
I just love the variety that my role brings; one minute I can be working on investment plans and funding applications and the next destination marketing campaigns or working one to one with tourism businesses.
What tips can you provide to others interested in pursuing a successful tourism career?
You need to try and stand out from the crowd a little, so when you are building up your CV think about taking up part-time jobs which will eventually help you to achieve your goal to work in tourism. Don’t forget to have fun at uni, but work hard too! Achieving your goals is always a challenge, but this is all part of the fun!
What are your favourite places and activities in Neath Port Talbot?
My favourite walk is Melincwrt Waterfall in the Vale of Neath. It’s such a beautiful waterfall and you don’t have to work too hard to get there – it’s only a ten minute walk! My four year old son’s favourite place is Margam Country Park (which means it’s one of my favourites too) we love to just roam around the stunning landscape. The last time we were there we hired a go-kart which was great fun. Aberavon Seafront has always been a favourite since I was a child, there’s great ice cream on offer too, so we love it for family days out.