IN RECENT years, Asia has outpaced other continents in terms of tourism growth. This burgeoning expansion is carving out exciting career opportunities for aspiring students, with demand outstripping supply in many cases. This spells exciting career openings for Asia’s brightest and most motivated students.

The key is picking up the sort of qualifications that can set you apart from the competition. Many students in Asia prefer to stay close to home, and there are certainly many prestigious hospitality institutes on offer. However, the most competitive degrees and certificates are still based out of the Western Hemisphere.

One of the major advantages Asian students have over their Western counterparts boils down to economics. The mortgage crisis in the US took hold in 2008, scrambling North American and European economies. Asia certainly felt the sting of this international crisis but has fared much better in the medium term.

Better yet, the fast-paced economies of China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and other Asian leaders have spawned a burgeoning domestic tourism sector. Fewer international tourists are flying in, but domestic interest is surging. The result is a highly sustainable tourism model that promises to nurture lifelong careers for students joining the hospitality brigade right now.

European countries – especially Switzerland – are often credited with having the best hospitality programs, but overlooking opportunities in North America is a mistake. While European nations play up the legacy aspect of hospitality, the US and Canada are busy innovating creative 21st-century industry approaches.

Pic: The Art Institutes.

This is particularly true along the west coast, a region that has been attracting ambitious self starters and innovators for decades. Here you’ll find cities like Vancouver, a thriving base for winter sports adventures; Seattle, the city that practically gave birth to modern coffee-shop culture; and a host of edgy tourism depots in California. Get your degree here, and your skills will be in demand anywhere in the world.

The US and Canada are particularly strong contenders in the culinary arts. The local population enthusiastically supports trendy dining scenes and nouveau cuisine. Chefs generate buzz by sourcing local ingredients so that their menus reflect the season. By allying yourself with this region, you’ll be setting your sights on where culinary arts and hospitality are heading rather than looking back to where they started.

And if innovative and forward-thinking enthusiasm don’t motivate, take a moment to consider the intense international dynamic at work in this part of the world. North America is home to flourishing Asian communities – and we’re not talking about a string of kitsch Chinatowns. You’ll be able to maintain strong ties to your home culture without foregoing the perks of living and studying in a foreign culture. It’s a best-of-both-worlds scenario.

Whether looking for a four-year bachelor’s degree program or a fast-track to certification, you’ll find institutes in North America ready to meet your needs. To aid in your search, take a moment to browse these leading hospitality institutes in North America:

THE ART INSTITUTE OF SEATTLE
The hospitality scene in Asia continues to expand, and students are eager to cash in on growing opportunities in the Asian culinary arts scene. For some, this means heading across the Pacific to gain their credentials in a leading North American culinary arts school like The Art Institute of Seattle. With so many schools on the market, choosing the right fit can be intimidating. These are credentials that you will carry around for the rest of your life, so you’ll want to align yourself with a school that carries as much weight in North America as it does in Asia. With its network of more than 40 campuses and a longstanding reputation for excellence, the Art Institute is a natural first choice. Read full profile…

THE ART INSTITUTE OF CALIFORNIA – SACRAMENTO
One of the vast network of The Art Institutes, the Sacramento branch is one of the most attractive places for students from Asia to earn a degree in culinary arts. California is well known for its open-mindedness and diversity, and international students will find more networking experience-building opportunities here than just about anywhere else on the continent. Everything about this institute emphasizes innovation, professionalism and creativity. The faculty behind the culinary arts programs hail from prominent industry positions. Some have managed operations in five-star restaurants; others come from production backgrounds. In every event, your instructors’ real-world experience combines with a genuine passion for teaching to deliver one of the best culinary arts experiences on the continent. Read full profile…

Pic: The Art Institutes.

THE ART INSTITUTE OF VANCOUVER
Students are propelled into any culinary arts program by dreams of restaurant ownership and the ambition to join the ranks of leading 21st-century chefs. At The Art Institute of Vancouver, the coursework is designed to cultivate this sort of excellence, but its programs aren’t for the unmotivated. At the institute, the educational process is engaging and dynamic, and you’ll be expected to grab the reins of your own culinary career. You’ll be surrounded by likeminded students and industry professionals who will challenge and support you. For students with a strong work ethic and lofty career goals, all this works together to ensure a competitive advantage in North America’s hospitality and culinary arts industry. Read full profile…

LE CORDON BLEU OTTAWA
Part of the world-famous Cordon Bleu network, LCB Ottawa offers internationally recognized certificates and diplomas to diverse base of aspiring culinary professionals. With a world-class education in French culinary techniques, graduates from Le Cordon Bleu launch in gastronomy as well as hospitality and management. Underpinning the success of Le Cordon Bleu – which many consider to be the world’s premier culinary arts institute – is a century-long tradition of excellence. As a student, you’ll earn certificates and diplomas through a mixture of intensive coursework and hands-on time spent in world-class practice kitchens.

UNIVERSITY OF DENVER (FRITZ KNOBEL)
The University of Denver’s Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality and Management has been on the map since the 1940s and has carved out a stalwart reputation in the decades since. Here, the industry-savvy faculty has one overarching goal: to equip graduates with the skills needed to seize senior-level positions in the fast-changing hospitality industry. Classes and labs are held in the recently built KSHM building, with its nearly 3,000-square-foot production kitchen, which preps students for high-powered internships in metropolitan Denver. But for international students striking out on a career in hospitality, the biggest draw of KSHM may be its graduate placement record – with 100 percent of active job seekers finding a niche.

UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA (ROSEN)
Stating specs on training kitchens and production labs seems unnecessary for Rosen College, a hospitality management school in Orlando, Florida. In this case, the empire of resorts and theme parks in this world-class holiday destination do the talking. Forty million annual visitors are the unknowing practice subjects for students at UCF Rosen College. From an international perspective, few hospitality schools are as well positioned. Few US cities have an international atmosphere that could rival Orlando’s. This is, after all, where the world shows up for a quintessential holiday experience. For students from Asia and abroad seeking undergraduate – or graduate-level – degrees in hospitality, event or tourism management, this is the place to begin.

Pic: Le Cordon Bleu.

CALIFORNIA POLYTECHNIC
Cal Poly’s Pomona Institute specializes in hospitality management and offers one of the most competitive programs in the US. There is a booming Asian population in this region of the US, and graduates are primed to take on competitive senior-level positions in tourism markets all over the world. Enrollees benefit from expert faculty and cutting-edge facilities. Furthermore, an outside panel of 45 industry experts inform staff of the latest breakthroughs and developments in hospitality, ensuring there’s no need to catch up the latest industry developments when segueing from the classroom to the workplace. Graduates are regularly among the first picked for top positions in Asia’s burgeoning tourism market.

JOHNSON & WALES UNIVERSITY
After nearly a century in operation, Johnson and Wales University delivers two of the most sought-after hospitality and culinary arts programs on the US eastern seaboard. Both offer fully accredited degrees that will open doors in any of the world’s leading markets for tourism, hospitality and dining; and thanks to a network of alumni spanning 115 countries, JWU grads are met with open doors. The educational philosophy at JWU is career oriented, and students spend as much time in training labs sharpening their skills as they do in class honing leadership abilities. Outside of class, the Providence music and entertainment scene ensures ample opportunity to balance the workload.

HILTON SCHOOL OF HOSPITALITY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON
With an iconic name like this, there’s no questioning Hilton College’s credibility. This is easily one of the top hospitality schools in the world, and it draws a dynamic base of international students who would settle for nothing less. Within the US, its hospitality regularly ranks in the top three, which in turn attracts some of the best faculty in the industry. Students gain valuable industry experience in the operational Hilton hotel run on campus. This is a tight-knit community within a community, and it gives the multicultural student body a chance to connect and interact in ways they otherwise wouldn’t.

OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY
Oklahoma State’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration has been on the industry map for over six decades, and it remains one of the most respected hospitality programs in the US. Moreover, a recent ranking placed HRAD eighth in the world. This is a hospitality institute to rival any. Undergrads perform research in state of the art practice facilities and actually receive two degrees – one through OSU and another from a partner organization in Europe. This dual certification combined with the chance to complete an internship in Switzerland means graduates are uniquely qualified to carry their skills to any corner of the world.