College of Business

Costa Rica 2017 - Sustainable Hospitality Management Program

(L to R) Grace Gamble, Michele Carrera, Amanda Maher, Zi Yean Hon, Lynnette Vong, Roberta Atzori, Rudolfo Ponce

Student Tour

Sustainable Hospitality Management students participated in a week-long study abroad program in Costa Rica led by Dr. John Avella and Dr. Roberta Atzori. With expert tour guides from Americas Educational Programs, the group discovered one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. The program included site visits, professional meetings, educational activities, and leisure time through which the students gained first-hand experience with the concepts and best practices learned in HOSP 471: Ecotourism Management, in which they were simultaneously enrolled. The students were also enrolled in an ancillary class (EN 795 IP International Programs) which included other students from across campus and, through Extended Education, community members and students from MPC Community College.

The group flew to San José, the capital of Costa Rica, where they received a warm Costa Rican welcome from the Americas Educational Programs’ tour guides. From November 18th to 24th, the group visited Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Nature Reserve, hiked the 1968 Trail at Arenal Volcano National Park, learned about the life cycle of butterflies and their importance for our planet at Butterfly Kingdom, observed coffee growing and production at Finca Rosa Blanca Hotel and Coffee Plantation, enjoyed the beauty of the Costa Rican Pacific coast at Coco Beach, experienced a rush of adrenaline zip lining across the rainforest, and witnessed a model of ecotourism at Punta Islita hotel and village.

The program activities allowed the students enrolled in the Ecotourism Management course to achieve several course outcomes through direct experience, such as demonstrating competency of responsible travel to natural areas which promote biodiversity conservation, low visitor impact, and socio-economic benefits to stakeholders in the local community. To achieve this outcome, the students were organized in teams. Each team was assigned a site visited in Costa Rica for which they were responsible for researching and preparing a case study paper and educating the rest of the group before the visit to the assigned site. This allowed the students to feel engaged and empowered, while bringing an academic perspective into the program.

Executive Delegation

A Monterey Bay delegation of county government and university officials, travel/eco-recreation/wellness executives, and tourism industry professionals traveled to Costa Rica in November with the goal of seeing Costa Rica’s ecotourism development first-hand and dialoguing with Costa Rican government officials, tourism development leaders, and hospitality and tourism executives.

The delegation met the Honorable Laura Chinchilla, Vice President of Costa Rica, to discuss Costa Rica’s ecotourism strategy. They met with the Costa Rican Board of Tourism CEO, and the former Minister of Tourism, as well as executives of a number of leading eco-hotels and resorts including the Cayuga Collection, Pacuare Lodge, Caribe Hospitality Group, and Punta Islita resort. The delegation made site visits to the Finca Rosa Blanca eco-resort, Greentique Hotel’s Villa Rosa Blanca eco-resort in San Ramon, the Skytrek Adventures Eco-recreation park, the Arenal Springs Eco-Hotel at the Arenal Volcano, Hyatt’s Andaz eco-resort in the Papagayo Peninsula, and the El Viejo Wetlands in Guanacaste. Opportunities were provided to learn about Costa Rica’s Blue Zone.

The visit provided a deep and comprehensive understanding of Costa Rica’s sustainable hospitality and ecotourism strategy. The Delegation returned with ecotourism ideas for the Central Coast Tourism industry.

Costa Rica Executive Delegation (pictured right): Mary Adams, Monterey County Supervisor; John Avella, Director, Sustainable Hospitality Management Program, CSUMB; Tony Baker, Executive Chef, Montrios Bistro; Britt Rios Ellis, Dean of Health Sciences and Human Services, CSUMB Jody Hansen, President & CEO, Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce; Shyam Kamath, Dean of The College of Business, CSUMB; Laura Kasa, Former Executive Director of Save Our Shores; Michelle Knight, Owner & President of Adventures By the Sea; Josh Metz, Economic Development Manager, Fort Ord Reuse Authority; Kelly O’Brien, President and CEO, Tendaji Inc.; Rob O’Keefe, Vice President and CMO, Monterey Convention and Visitors Bureau; Larry Samuels, Senior Adviser to the CSUMB President; Kevin Saunders, Vice President & CFO, CSUMB; Tony Tollner, President, Downtown Dining