For travel-lovers looking for a rewarding career, few industries seem as promising as tourism. What could be more wonderful than working in an exciting, exotic locale, helping others get as much satisfaction from their travels as you do?

Studying tourism is the first step towards achieving this. Whether you want to get a full degree or simply get a certification to add to your current credentials, going overseas for your studies guarantees an unforgettable experience.

As a foreign student, you’ll have an invaluable advantage in this field. As you progress from newcomer to adopted local, you will experience first-hand all aspects of the tourism industry in your destination of choice. After all, who understands tourism better than someone who has been a tourist themselves?

Studying tourism can mean a variety of things. On one hand, there are general courses designed to cover a range of basic principles across customer service, management, and operations. These are usually at the undergraduate level, and are designed to give students an overall view of the industry.

If you already have an undergraduate degree, you can take a Master’s or a Ph.D. in a specific field. This allows you to deepen your knowledge and focus your efforts.

These courses often involve a frontline placement, allowing you to get some experience in your chosen area. For this reason, your destination is particularly important when considering this type of course.

Several tourism and hospitality schools around the world also offer shorter programs and courses. These mostly take place in the summer and can be a good option for someone who is in more of a hurry to gain a specific skillset.

Nowadays, few corners of the world can be said to be fully devoid of tourists. As a result, tourism courses can be found essentially anywhere.


Sure, Chinese tourists are dominating global travel, but China’s own tourism industry has also boomed. Both domestic and international tourism is on the rise, with millions of people being drawn to the country’s rich heritage, spectacular nature, and world-renown cuisine.

As a result, tourism study programs abound throughout the country. Several of China’s best universities offer tourism degrees and short summer programs, including several options in English.

South Africa

While many countries in Africa have only a modest tourist industry, this is very much not the case for South Africa. The country combines some of the most beautiful nature in the world with vibrant cities and unique tribal cultures, meaning there is a wide breadth of subjects to study.

South Africa also happens to be home to many of the top universities in Africa, with English-speaking programs concentrated in Cape Town, Pretoria, and Johannesburg.


Spain is a country that knows tourism. From historical towns to diverse modern cities, traditional taverns to revolutionary high-end gastronomy, beach party towns to mountain adventure camps, there really is a specialism for everyone.

This makes Spain the perfect choice for people who are not sure what area of tourism they want to get into, since there are opportunities to try out everything.

Preparing to study tourism overseas is not too different from preparing to be a tourist overseas. You will need to select a destination based on your interests and budget, plan your accommodation, and pack your bags appropriately. There’s just the small matter of selecting a course.

How to Choose a Tourism Study Abroad Program

Go somewhere that you love traveling in, as enjoying the area as a tourist will help you understand the local industry on a much deeper level. Luckily, most tourism courses are based in large travel hubs, so you shouldn’t have a hard time exploring the country.

Another way to approach this is to match your destination to your specific area of interest. For example, Switzerland is internationally known for its high-end hospitality institutions, but you’d be much better off heading to Costa Rica or New Zealand if you are interested in sustainable eco-tourism.

If you don’t know what area of tourism you want to work in, go for a general tourism management course at a good university. This will give you an overall view of the possible career paths in the industry, after which you can specialize through a Master’s degree or a shorter course.

Health & Safety

A tourism course can involve a huge range of activities, some of which are potentially dangerous. This is especially true if you are interested in adventure tourism. Make sure your health insurance covers anything you get up to during your studies.

Aside from this, you are likely to be staying in a big city, so the usual precautions apply. Be aware of pickpockets, avoid walking alone at night, don’t flash expensive stuff, don’t drink too much, and generally keep your wits about you.

Other Need To Know

Tourism and hospitality are often conflated, but they are not the same thing. Hospitality involves the service part of tourism, including restaurants, hotels, and cruises. Tourism includes this, but also everything else, from transport to travel agencies, museums, landmarks, and tourism boards.

If you know that hospitality is what you are interested in, you are better off narrowing down your search to this area. If, however, you just know that you want to work in the general world of tourism, it’s useful to keep this broader definition in mind.

Guide Author
Photo of Beatriz Silva Porto
Go Overseas Writer

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