Department of Tourism

The ATU Donegal Department of Tourism is located on a five-acre site on the Shore Road overlooking Killybegs Harbour.  The Department is a hub of activity providing business and practical training which prepares graduates for a wide variety of careers in culinary arts, hospitality management and tourism.

Tourism is one of Ireland's most important economic sectors.  The tourism sector supports 148,300 jobs in the accommodation and food sector alone, and overall employment in tourism is estimated to be in the region of 220,000.  The travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries.  The sector now supports 292 million people in employment – that is 1 in 10 jobs on the planet.  For nearly 50 years, the Department has produced talented and skilled graduates for the tourism industry both in Ireland and abroad.  

Our rich heritage in culinary arts and hospitality ensures that we continue to be well positioned to expand the range and type of programmes we offer.  Throughout its history, the Department has evolved to keep pace with the growing demands of the hospitality and tourism industry.  Bringing together food, business, hospitality, culinary science and technology has enabled the school to develop as a national centre for innovation through, product development, hospitality/tourism education and training.  All of our programmes focus on the development of key transferable skills; customer service, communication, organisation, attention to detail and teamwork which are the corner stone of a successful career in the industry.

The Department offers a range of courses, from short certificate programmes to degree level qualifications in culinary arts, hospitality, tourism, food science and technology, industry-based programmes and preparatory programmes enabling students to access higher education in the region.  The programmes are designed for school leavers and to facilitate mature students to return to study.  They are offered on a full- or part-time basis and have been developed in collaboration with regional and national tourism enterprises.  Our students and graduates find placement and employment opportunities around the globe with the assistance of a dedicated placement office.  This has helped us achieve an enviable near 100% graduate employment rate.  

Recently, the Department was shortlisted in the category of ‘Best Cookery School’, in the 2017 Restaurant Association of Ireland National Awards.  In addition, the Department was the 2017 recipient of the “The National Hygiene Partnership Food Safety Award for Colleges”.  The Department and the Killybegs Campus facilities are designed to ensure exceptional student learning experiences and to reflect our commitment to our industry.  Our training facilities support a robust and rigorous learning experience for all our students.

Department  Tourism Key Differentiating Factors 

  • Dedicated Facility - the Department is in a unique situation, in that it offers a range of tourism/hospitality and culinary arts programmes at a dedicated location with a high level of equipment and facilities available to run the practical aspects of its programmes.  This fact, coupled with the dedication, qualifications and experience of the academic and support staff, has resulted in the Department successfully producing graduates who have been readily employed on a region, national and international basis.  The state-of-the-art facilities on the Killybegs Campus, serve to simulate the real world environment and support all aspects of our teaching and learning, they include:
    • The Millennium Room Training Restaurant (open to the public during term time)
    • Training bar, Café Porto, training kitchens, demonstration kitchen and hotel bedroom
    • Canteen, lecture theatres, library, all weather astro turf pitch, computer labs and student common room.
  • Industry Engagement - the Department has developed strong relationships with industry; recent developments include food product development projects with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s seafood development agency), provision of minor and special purpose awards in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), Donegal County Council, Údarás na Gaeltachta, and the provision of HEA funded Springboard+ programmes. 
  • Learner Placement - learner placement in industry is a key component of all Department programmes.  The introduction of learners to the world of work via a credit based formal structure is a unique feature of the programmes.  During the past decade, programmes have been re-designed to include international placement opportunities on all degree programmes.  The inclusion of a semester work placement/study abroad option greatly enhances the industry links with the Department and employment prospects for all tourism graduates.  The Department has forged excellent international relationships with hospitality and tourism recruitment companies, cruise ship operators, hotel and resort operators and formed partnerships to advance the career prospects of our students and graduates. 
  • Academic Staff and Digital Learning - academic staff actively engage all students via the use of Blackboard as the virtual learning environment.  Staff have also been proactive in securing funding for the development of online learning resources funded through NDLR (National Digital Learning Repository).  Both of these developments signal the intent by the Department to further enhance its online resources and introduce online and flexible modes of programme provision.  Department of Hospitality, Tourism & Culinary Skills staff ensure that their skills and knowledge are up to date by undertaking additional qualifications and professional development opportunities.

Department of Tourism

This Department is a hub of activity for courses covering the practical elements of professional cookery and the business disciplines required for employment in the wider hospitality, tourism and food technology industries. From a hospitality and tourism perspective a wide variety of courses are offered for direct and indirect customer service roles in hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, cruise ships, airlines and tourist attractions. 

Our courses are designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills to work in this exciting industry anywhere in the world. You will be ready to take on key roles in all areas of an established organisation, including supervisory and business management levels or perhaps be your own boss and start a unique new business. From a gastronomy perspective our courses are designed to channel your enthusiasm for all things culinary so that you become a highly skilled professional chef with excellent knowledge and experience – ready to work anywhere in the world, in different organisations or as an entrepreneur running your own business.