For a lot of people, the first thing that comes to mind when they think about Costa Rica is its pristine beaches, wild jungles, and the many adventures they can experience in this Central American paradise. The tourism industry has been one of the fastest growing economic sectors in Costa Rica. As the country takes its next big leap into tourism, Texas Tech University-Costa Rica is making sure that its students are graduating with the skills and experience necessary to take the lead.
Just to give you an idea of tourism’s growth, back in 2008, tourism accounted for about 3% of Costa Rica’s GDP, with about 300,000 tourists arriving every year. Today, tourism accounts for 6% of the GDP and has surpassed 3 million visitors on a yearly basis.
Over the last few years, there have been 14 new hotel development properties in the Guanacaste province, bringing more jobs, more money, and most importantly, the multiplier effect. The multiplier effect is a way to describe how a tourist’s money circulates through the economy. For example, the money tourists spend in hotels is later used for the hotel’s payroll. Hotel employees inject that same money into the local economy, supporting workers in other industries.
“When you start thinking about what the hospitality industry in general brings to the table, it is the single largest driver of new income and jobs worldwide,” said Dr. Robert Paul Jones, Department Chair of Hospitality and Retail Management of Texas Tech University. “People look at it as a very finite event, but when you start unwinding it, all of these other pieces start to come along with it. The good news is that it ends up hitting every sector of the economy, so the country grows because of it.”
As you may have noticed, people are traveling now more than ever, largely because it has become easier to do so. In Costa Rica, for example, people can choose among more international flights. Not so long ago, there would only be one or two flights coming in from Europe, but today there are daily flights not only to the San José airport, but also directly to Liberia, Guanacaste. Tourism in Costa Rica is thriving, which is why a career in this industry is a great idea.
Some people have misconceptions regarding what exactly Restaurant and Hotel Management (RHIM) entails. According to Gonzalo Alfaro, professor of RHIM here at Texas Tech-CR, the many options within this industry gives students the opportunity to work in very diverse environments. RHIM majors gain training and experience to qualify for jobs in several fields.
“Texas Tech-Costa Rica students receive not only the academic knowledge and background to be successful in the industry, but also relevant experience through internships, labs, and much more. This training gives students an added value in the hiring process, making them more marketable,” Professor Alfaro said.
RHIM students are required to complete a 400-hour internship, where they work in diverse settings, learn more about the industry, and get an idea of what branch of RHIM they want to pursue in the future.
Opportunities in the hospitality and restaurant industry are very promising due to the high demand, not only in Costa Rica but around the globe. If you have an interest in this field, Texas Tech-CR encourages you to apply and begin your journey to become the next food and beverage manager, director of hotel operations, event manager, or something you can’t yet imagine!