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Travel Agent
Travel agents make travel arrangements based on the needs, budgets and tastes of customers. Clients may include individuals, families or groups, and business people.

Travel agents give information to customers and answer questions concerning transportation, passports, visas, currency regulations, tourist attractions, hotel reservations and the booking of flights. They also make other special arrangements which customers may request such as car rentals, sightseeing trips, or ordering of traveller's cheques.

When travel agents make these arrangements, they must consult tariff schedules such as those that are published by the International Air Travel Association (IATA). Similar guides are used to gain other tourist information on accommodation. They also make recommendations to clients on the strength of their own experience or knowledge.

The travel industry is highly specialized and computers play an important role in the collection of information, planning, bookings and the processing of itineraries.

Some agents, especially those who are self-employed, also do promotional work, such as hold meetings with business managers to suggest for example, company-sponsored trips.

Satisfying Aspects
- working with people
- helping people arrange successful holiday and/or business trips
- opportunities to travel at reduced fares

Demanding aspects
- working with unpleasant or over-demanding people
- working under pressure
- frequent telephone and visitor interruptions
- working long hours during certain seasons and holidays
- doing detailed work

A travel agent should:
- have a good appearance;
- be able to get along with others;
- be helpful, pleasant, friendly, patient, tactful and polite;
- be able to assume responsibility;
- have sales ability;
- be able to communicate well in speech and writing;
- have broad travel experience;
- be bilingual or multilingual;
- have a good knowledge of geography, at the very least of the country where working.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Geography, Languages, Mathematics, Tourism

Diploma: N.Dip: Tourism Management or Travel & Tourism - NMMU, UNISA, DUT, CPUT, CUT, UJ, TUT, VUT.

Certificate: Tourism - FET colleges such as Boland, Ekurhuleni West, Port Elizabeth, Vuselela, Tshwane S, Northlink, South and Northern Cape, SW Gauteng and Umgungundlovu FET Colleges.

Very limited employment opportunities exist for unqualified persons as only a few firms have the facilities to give in-service training. The candidate works mostly with files to get acquainted with the work.

Most travel agencies employ people who have already completed some sort of training for this career. These courses are usually completed by correspondence and are offered by Safari, Galileo, Rapid Results College, Damelin and Rennies. Business-related courses can also be considered.

At some travel agencies an examination is written at the end of the first year. After sufficient basic knowledge is obtained the agent may serve the public.

Special licensing or certification is required by the Travel Agents' Board. Travel agencies have to be licensed with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to be able to issue international airline tickets.

International airlines organize special tours to different countries for the training of travel agents and they invite travel agencies to send representatives.

- SATOUR and other tourism boards
- private travel agencies
- self-employment, with enough experience,    initiative and capital, can open own travel agency

Association of SA Travel Agents (ASATA)
P O Box 1234
Saxonwold, 2132
Tel: (011) 327-7803 Fax: (011) 327-7827