After serving with the U.S. Marines in Vietnam and working for seven years as a tour director, Ted Bravos helped establish International Tour Management Institute (ITMI), a school that certifies aspiring tour and travel professionals.
Group Tour managing editor David Hoekman and Bravos discussed industry trends and the role ITMI has played in travel since its founding.
Q: How did ITMI begin?
A: In 1976, when America was celebrating its bicentennial, a fellow tour director and I founded the first school in North America to train and certify tour directors and tour guides. The cornerstones of the International Tour Management Institute are education, partnership, community and outreach. It is gratifying to look back on the evolution of our school, the achievements of almost 9,000 alumni worldwide and hundreds of tour operator partners — and realize we have helped raise the bar of professionalism in the tour and travel industry.
Q: What industry trends are you noticing?
A: Forty years ago, being paid to travel was a strong motivator for individuals who applied to our institute. Today, student tours and small ship cruising have risen significantly, offering cultural enrichment and more opportunities than ever before to participate in environmental service projects. Therefore, with the increasing student tour market and the growing need for sustainable tourism, we are noticing students coming to the institute have a strong focus on social responsibility. They are deeply concerned about how they can make a difference in the world through travel. To that point, ITMI added a training module on Human Trafficking Awareness to its curriculum, because we recognize our travel community can make a difference in helping to stop “modern-day slavery.”
Q: What are you most proud of about your company?
A: I have always been struck by the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said, “the passport to peace is travel.” Tour directors and guides educate and inform their fellow travelers about history, customs, cultures and traditions, which often breaks down stereotypes to help us all become better world citizens.
ITMI has become the largest network of professional tour directors and guides in the world. I am truly proud and humbled by the community we have created and nurtured these many years. It is based upon ITMI’s Code of Ethics, which includes impeccable integrity; the pursuit of professional excellence; and a desire to serve as an “ambassador of goodwill” to all whose lives we are privileged to touch. S
Q: What’s the next big thing for ITMI?
A: The company will be expanding its Motor Coach Customer Service Training, Group Leader, DMO, Supplier Training and launching our On-Board Cruise Ship Training.
International Tour Management Institute