Simon Curtis

Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Events

Department of Property and Construction

Simon Curtis

Please describe yourself in a few sentences?

I'm a Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Events. I'm British with a mix of Welsh and English ancestry. I spent 25 years working in the UK tourism industry before joining the University.

What is your area of academic interest?

I teach on our undergraduate and Masters tourism and events courses. I am the admissions tutor for these courses, which means I have lead responsibility for dealing with course enquiries from prospective students. I'm interested in destination management, as this is the field in which I spent the last 15 years of my career. I'm especially engaged in cultural tourism and in the more recent phenomenon of "festivalisation" of cities.

Please tell us a bit about the courses that you are involved in?

We have three undergraduate tourism courses, each with a different emphasis. Tourism and Planning BA Honours focuses on the strategic role of tourism which, for some countries, is the leading economic sector and requires considerable investment and management by the public sector. Tourism with Business BA Honours focuses more on the key skills needed to succeed in the tourism industry as a business operator, ie marketing, financial and operational management. Tourism and Event Management BA Honours involves a closer scrutiny of the role of cultural events in destination development, and the role and impact of business events such as conferences and exhibitions.

What was your first job?

I initially went into banking. It wasn't right for me and I was lucky enough to be offered a job as a graduate trainee by the English Tourist Board. That kick-started my career in tourism at an exciting time for UK tourism - the late 1980s. I spent some time as assistant to the Director of Development as his researcher and speech writer. I realised that I had a gift for writing and had found something that combined my passion for travel and "places".

What did you do in your career before coming to Westminster?

After the English Tourist Board, I worked for a consultancy practice specialising in leisure and tourism. I had realised by this time that I wanted to manage destinations. I then worked as Tourism Development Manager in Kent (for the County Council) and then at Medway Council (the urban area of North Kent including Rochester and Chatham) as Head of Tourism and Culture. I was responsible for managing the tourism service, the portfolio of heritage buildings which the Council owned, and the museum service.

Name one highlight of your career?

During my time as a consultant with Touche Ross, I was heavily involved in the initial research and planning for Excel in the mid 1990s, when there was huge scepticism about its location and chances of success. It’s nice to have been involved with a major project which now plays a significant role in London's tourism success as its leading exhibition centre.

What advice would you give to students during their studies and after graduation?

Most importantly, set out to enjoy your studies - and you will only enjoy the experience if you commit to learning and don't view it as a chore. At Westminster, get to know your lecturers and academic staff - they are there to help you along and we like getting to know students.

What advice would you give students considering studying this subject?

Tourism is a great subject to study and opens all sorts of career paths. Try to obtain work experience in the industry before starting university - working in a hotel, restaurant or tourist attraction. It’s an industry that thrives on hard work, hospitality, people and a sense of fun.

What are your interests/leisure activities?

Sport is my passion. In my younger days, I played cricket and football. I now settle for tennis and golf! I get hooked into watching far too much sport but I love the unpredictability, emotion and sense of spectacle that sport offers. I'm also passionate about travel - something that most tourism people have in common!

Tourism and Events

Find out about student successes, career possibilities, our teaching excellence and more.

Tourism field trip

Field trips

Each Tourism and Events course involves a residential field trip as well as visits to London tourist and event venues.