An International Tourism and Hospitality Management Degree: Your Ticket to a Dynamic Career

Tourism rewards us with some of life’s most unforgettable moments: In Peru, a couple explores the ruins of an ancient civilization—and the promise of a future together—while climbing a mountainous trail to the ruins of Machu Picchu. To celebrate a job promotion, a father surprises his kids with a week at Disney World, the family’s first vacation in six years. And, while backpacking through Eastern Europe, a recent college graduate uncovers lost family history, as well as unexpected new friends. With a degree in international tourism and hospitality management, you can help make possible experiences like these that linger with travelers for a lifetime.

A trillion dollar industry, global tourism is the largest and one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. In the U.S., travel expenditures support 14 million jobs, placing travel and tourism among the top 10 industries, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

Traveling transforms us. It pushes us out of our comfort zones, opening our eyes to new cultures, new places and new experiences. An international tourism and hospitality management degree is your ticket to exploring the world and empowering others to do so.

With expertise in marketing, management and operations, tourism industry professionals facilitate the travel experience for millions of people every year. Whether journeying near or far, for leisure or for business, travelers depend on a host of professionals to enhance every step of their journey.

Attract and host visitors from all around the world

A good hotel is not just a home-away-from-home; it’s the sign of a well-managed business. While the general manager is responsible for running an establishment efficiently and profitably, it’s up to the marketing and sales staff to get people past the welcome mat, and convince them that a particular hotel or resort will be the perfect home base for their excursions. Most travelers reserve a room before they ever step foot inside, so marketing staff have to persuade from afar—using social media, advertising and other tactics. A sales manager helps build business through researching and developing marketing opportunities, producing promotional materials, forging relationships with local businesses, and understanding the competition, clientele and marketing trends.

Organize ecotourism and adventure trips

If you have a passion for the outdoors and environmental causes, ecotourism could be a great fit for you. Ecotourism seeks to minimize the impact of travel, as travel puts considerable stress on the environment—from the air pollution emitted by cars and planes to the water wasted from daily laundering of towels and sheets at hotels. Ecotourism offers a sustainable, responsible alternative, and helps foster an awareness and respect for the plants, wildlife and people living in or near tourist destinations. For instance, on an ecotourism trip to Costa Rica, tourists might observe—and have the chance to participate in—conservation efforts to protect nesting sea turtles. And after their seaside volunteering, they can relax in an ecolodge powered by solar panels.

You can even combine your tourism management education with a degree in biology to land a career organizing and leading group hikes to rainforests and nature reserves, or white-water rafting tours. You can help put a tourist’s visit in a larger cultural and ecological context.

Advocate for better tourism policies

A burdensome visa process can discourage some international travelers from visiting the U.S. As a federal government employee in the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, you might play an active role in developing policies that increase tourism to the country. You could research industry trends and demand, collect data on overseas travelers, and measure the impact of travel on the U.S. economy—all with the purpose of supporting policymaking.

Promote the places where you live

Are you bursting with hometown pride? Do you enjoy selling out-of-towners on all the merits of your city, county or state? You might enjoy working for a Convention and Visitors Bureau, or a tourism promotion agency. Most cities, counties and states have them. They help connect visitors with resources and information about area attractions and accommodations, promote cities as tourist destinations, and serve as a point of contact for groups planning conventions and special events. You could also work for a national organization, such as the U.S. Travel Association, which advocates for increased travel to and within the U.S.

Manage exciting attractions and destinations

Can you imagine going to work every day at Disney World? Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is actually the largest single-site employer in the United States, with more than 3,700 job classifications. A degree in international tourism and hospitality management can place you in a variety of fun settings—museums, zoos, theme parks, casinos, resorts—where you have an opportunity to shape the entertainment experience for visitors. For instance, a theme park manager strategizes how to enhance the park with new rides and attractions, in addition to undertaking operational duties, such as supervising staff and developing budgets.

Introduce customers to new tastes

Sometimes, a visit to a restaurant can be an adventure in and of itself—an opportunity to be exposed to a new cuisine and unfamiliar flavors. Restaurants often provide the backdrop for special occasions: birthday parties, anniversary dinners and first dates. As a restaurant manager, you can have an impact on a memorable experience for a customer. Restaurant managers are responsible for assembling the right ingredients behind the scenes: They supervise kitchen and wait staff, maintain inventory, communicate with suppliers, recommend menu changes and ensure that the kitchen complies with safety regulations. The work opportunities are as diverse as the types of food served—put your hospitality and tourism management degree to use at a family-friendly chain, Michelin star restaurant, catering company or hotel.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo ranks as one of the top universities in the South, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” list. Saint Leo’s traditional liberal arts campus, located 30 miles north of Tampa, educates more than 1,900 students. Total enrollment across its campus, regional education centers, and online programs exceeds 15,000. Among the oldest Catholic universities in Florida, Saint Leo is one of the nation's 10 leading providers of higher education to the U.S. military, and is a nationally recognized leader in online education.

Did you know tourism is Florida’s top industry? Learn more about the International Tourism and Hospitality Management degree at Saint Leo University: click here.