PURA VIDA: MBS Canes Explore Sustainable Tourism in Costa Rica

June 17, 2019

By Robert Wagenseil

Undergraduate students from the Miami Business School kicked off their summer 2019 on two immersive educational trips to Costa Rica. Organized by the Global Business Studies Program and the Hyperion Council, the trips offered students with opportunities to learn about sustainability in tourism and other business sectors.

Learning and Exploring Sustainable Tourism in Costa Rica

The Global Business Studies Program, led by MBS professor Dr. Maria Lorca-Susino, provided students with an immersive perspective into sustainable tourism. Through real-life application of the official criteria of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the program will allow students to help tourism stakeholders in Miami (and beyond) establish and achieve measurable sustainability goals.

Group picture at airport

Carolina Tundidor, Paige A. Braia, Dr. María Lorca-Susino, Tomas Sarmiento, Elena Zapata, Caroline Laybourn 

The GSTC establishes and manages global sustainable standards, known as the GSTC Criteria. There are two sets: Destination Criteria for public policy-makers and destination managers, and Industry Criteria for hotels and tour operators. These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain natural and cultural resources, while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation.

Prior to the trip, the group prepared a case study that analyzed how Horizontes, a local leading sustainable tourism company, is meets the criteria to be considered a sustainable company according to the four GSTC sustainable factors. The group successfully presented its findings to CEO Federico Solano.

Group Photo in Costa Rica

Upon arriving in Costa Rica, the group travelled to The Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn to see first-hand how a sustainable hotel is run through resource use and local community impact. 

Rosa Blanca

The group met with Esteban Gutierrez Mora, a local entrepreneur who has been working toward his dream of operating a bespoke sustainable travel agency. Using the GSTC criteria, they advised Esteban on ways to build his company with sustainable practices.

After meetings in San Jose, Costa Rica, the group traveled to Turrialba to begin work on sustainability projects for local entrepreneurs with limited resources. 

MBS students Caroline and Paige applied their global business and marketing knowledge to assist U-Sure, a local tourism company. They created a marketing plan to promote the business to local schools and domestic and international tourism markets. They also updated the company's website, launched its social media platforms and created a TripAdvisor profile. 

Group Working in Costa Rica

Meanwhile, Carolina, Elena and Tomas helped Turrialba resident Cesar, an aspiring tourism entrepreneur. Cesar has worked at Hotel Guayabo Lodge for eight years, however, his dream has always been to launch his own business. Lacking the structure and resources necessary to pursue his dream, the students assisted him by developing a comprehensive business plan, corporate brochure and website structure.

Cesar with Costa Rican Mountains in Background

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