Registration open for 2014 Costa Rica tourism training

AgriLife Extension program provides on-site ecotourism, agritourism instruction

COLLEGE STATION — The Nature Tourism Program of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has opened registration for its Best Practices in Ecotourism and Agritourism Field Training to take place in Costa Rica from Feb. 18-26, 2014.

Training topics will include marketing, wildlife conservation, ecotourism, agritourism, certifications, the tour guide profession and customer service.

The Best Practices in Ecotourism and Agritourism Field Training program in Costa Rica from Feb. 18-26 will provide participants to experience and learn from a variety of ecotourism and agritourism operatoins. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Miles Phillips)

The Best Practices in Ecotourism and Agritourism Field Training program in Costa Rica, to be held from Feb. 18-26 next year, will  provide an opportunity for participants to experience a variety of tourism operations and speak to a number of professionals involved in a different public and private ecotourism and agritourism activities in that country. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Miles Phillips)

“A major goal of the field course program is to provide participants with additional insights on how they may enhance their own operations and their communities by introducing higher-value experiences to attract regional and international visitors,” said Miles Phillips, AgriLife Extension nature tourism specialist in the recreation, park and tourism services department, Texas A&M University, College Station.

Phillips, who serves as tour instructor, said the program provides training for those in the tourism industry, community officials, ranchers and farmers, and others who want to experience successful operations and learn from business professionals in a country known as a world leader in agritourism and ecotourism.

“Costa Rica is one of the world’s most successful ecotourism and sustainable tourism destinations, so it provides a wealth of information on what does and doesn’t work when it comes to boosting travel and tourism while conserving wildlife and natural resources,” Phillips said. “We want those in the U.S. nature tourism industry to be even more successful and compete with other tourism businesses worldwide. This training is designed so participants can bring back plenty of ideas and best practices to apply to their own operations.”

Phillips said participants would have the opportunity to speak with many ecotourism and agritourism professionals during the program, such as representatives from the Costa Rican operations they will visit, plus the following professionals;

–Dr. Eugenio Gonzalez, director of the Texas A&M Soltis Center in Costa Rica.

–Paul Serff, president emeritus of the Texas Travel Industry Association and adjunct professor in the recreation, park and tourism sciences department.

–Lloyd Martinez, owner of Paradise Tours and certified professional tour guide in Costa Rica.

–Stephen Brueggerhoff, AgriLife Extension program specialist, customer service and event management programs, College Station.

“During the nine-day program, we will provide participants with a sampling of different types of tourism operations—from a farm to a wildlife preserve to a national park,” Phillips said.

Costa Rica is one of the world's top ecotourism and agritourism destinations. Program participants will learn about best mangement practices they may apply to their U.S. operations.  (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Miles Phillips)

Costa Rica is one of the world’s top ecotourism and agritourism destinations. Program participants will learn about best practices there, which they can then apply to their own U.S. operations. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Miles Phillips)

He said some of the sites to be visited will include the Soltis Center, the National Museum, Finca Luna Nueva Agritourism Farm, Proyecto Asis Wildlife Preserve and Carara National Park. Other stops will include a forest hike interpretive program, Chocolate Rainforest tour, crocodile viewing and boat tour.

The cost is $1,699 per person and includes lodging, land travel, meals and tour experiences.

Phillips said the price does not include airfare or airport tax, as some attendees may wish to extend their trip or use frequent flier miles.

For more information and to sign up for the training, go to http://naturetourism.tamu.edu/   or call 979-845-2604.

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