Study in Costa Rica with TMCC's Hospitality and Tourism Management Program

Costa Rica
Rebecca Eckland

If pristine white sand beaches, tropical forests and island life sound like your scene, TMCC’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program is offering a 3-credit one-week winter class in Costa Rica that will open your eyes to the importance of sustainable tourism while offering you opportunities to network with industry professionals and, let’s be real here, get a tan in January. 

Why Costa Rica? Costa Rica is the world leader in sustainable tourism (and in many ways, sustainability in general). In 2017, Costa Rica ran for 300 days on zero fossil-fuel electricity, meeting the country’s power needs through sustainable sources.  On any given day, the country produces 93% of its energy using sustainable sources so much so that people say: “...sustainability is not a practice in Costa Rica, but a way of life.” 

So, it’s no wonder that those working in the Hospitality industry look to Costa Rica for examples and ideas on how to develop and implement their own effective sustainability practices. 

About TMCC’s Hospitality and Tourism Program

Among TMCC’s newer degree programs, Hospitality and Tourism Management was launched in the fall of 2018, answering a local—and global—need for skill sets that are targeted, yet diverse. TMCC student Payton Keife, who’s starting her second year in the program, began her academic journey in this new program as a way to follow her dreams of working in the Food and Beverage industry. 

As one of five students in the Front Office Operations class during its second year, Keife and her classmates are continually exploring various aspects of this professional field in ways that she had never expected. “We recently had a guest speaker in class from the Renaissance Hotel,” she said. “I never thought about working in a hotel before, but she got me thinking about wanting to do something [other than food and beverage.]” 

By design, courses in the program bring in guest speakers who can speak to the wide range of career options available to graduates in a degree program in which “...the skills are global.  With this degree, you can go anywhere,” said Vanina Coudriet, Coordinator for the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program. 

Speakers for the program have included experts and professionals from community and industry partners, including: Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, SMG, Travel Nevada, ski resorts, the Reno-Tahoe Airport and Southwest Airlines, and many hotels, such as the Atlantis,  Peppermill, Whitney Peak Hotel, Grand Sierra Resort, Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Ritz-Carlton and the Barracuda Championship golf tournament. The President of the Reno ACES, Eric Edelstein, the General Manager of Renaissance Reno, Vicki Savani, and the President and CEO of the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, Mat Sinclair, have served as guest speakers.

“If you’re interested in this degree, you really can create your own path,” said Coudriet.  The possibilities are many and varied: graduates could work in hotels, restaurants, at a ski resort or a golf course, on cruise ships or airlines.   

“You have to like to work with people,” said Coudriet. “And having customer service skills is essential. This career path will enable you to travel and experience new cultures if that is what you are interested in.” 

An AA degree can land you in a supervisory role, says Coudriet. If a student wishes to continue to a 4-year program, a Bachelor’s enables you to become a member of management. “If you have the hospitality spirit, and if you do your job with passion, the opportunity for advancement in this industry is definitely there,” she said.

Why Study Sustainability

Sustainability is the name of the future, not only in the field of hospitality and tourism but across nearly every industry. Learning from the experts and seeing sustainability in action will prepare students in this course for the workforce of the 21st century. More specifically, however, students who enroll in the weeklong HMD 198 will understand what are the benefits and threats of tourism and why there is a demand for sustainable tourism in Costa Rica, and worldwide. Additionally, students will go in-depth into topics like managing visitor impact and creating a sustainable tourism plan. 

Additionally, students will have ample opportunities to network with other industry professionals while exploring Costa Rica, a.k.a. “...the perfect combination of relaxation, adventure, culture, fine cuisine, and wildlife.” 

“I would love to go,” said Keife, who will transfer to UNLV to complete her Bachelor’s in Hospitality and Tourism Management next Fall. “It’s just so fun—the classes are very engaging and, in Costa Rica, you’ll get a close up of sustainability practices in our industry. Networking is also a huge part of the class… plus you get time to do your own thing, there’s no homework and you get a few free meals.”

Interested? The 3-credit course runs January 11-18, 2020. Students will need to enroll in HMD 198 “Special Topics in Hospitality and Tourism Management.” The class will include a student’s hotel (double occupancy), breakfast each day, ground transportation from the arrival day to departure, a welcome lunch, farewell appetizers and drinks, a certificate of completion and all academic meetings.

In addition to the $1500 cost of the trip, students are responsible for their airfare to and from Costa Rica.  Would you like to bring along friends and family? Coudriet explains that anyone is welcome…as long as they sign up for the class.  Don’t wait too long, though: the deadline to apply is September 19. 

For more information about the class, contact Hospitality and Tourism Management coordinator Vanina Coudriet.