International Tourism Education- Brazil and Latin America

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Since a long time, tourism education has been a topic of debate in academia and numerous
studies have been published about the theme in some of the major international specialised
journals (see e.g. Jafari & Ritchie, 1981; Airey & Johnson, 1999; Tribe, 2002).
Some parts of the world, however, have been left out of the discussion for several years, as
is the case of Latin America, only more recently addressed by Pizam (1999). Also, only a
limited number of researchers have approached the topic of tourism education provision in
countries of the region, such as Charles (1997), who wrote about the past and future development
of tourism and hospitality education and training in the Caribbean region and
Knowles, Teixeira, and Egan (2003) who presented a comparison of tourism and hospitality
education in Brazil and in the United Kingdom (UK).
Similarly, tourism research has become a very much-examined topic in specialised publications,
academic conferences and discussions worldwide (see e.g. Van Doren, Koh, &
McCahill, 1994; Botterill, Haven & Gale, 2002; Page, 2003). Once again, Latin America
has not been a focal point of attention of researchers and no major international publication
has dealt with the topic in the region to date.
Brazil is used in this thread to highlight the major concerns and indicate some of the tendencies
of education and research in tourism in Latin America. Initially, an overview of
tourism education and research in the Latin American context is given. Then, a description of
the Brazilian education system is offered, followed by a discussion of the main issues regarding
Tourism Higher Education (THE) and research in the country. Finally, conclusions about
the development of tourism as a subject in higher education in Latin America are drawn out.

[ by Tourism at 3-10-2009 07:09 edited ]

The development of tourism education in Latin America is still in its early stages. Pizam
(1999), in one of the few papers about the topic published to date, brings out some of the
major concerns and perceptions of key tourism ‘industry’ stakeholders from the region,
including businesses and government bodies, on the topic of human resources in the
tourism sector. The study shows that the private sector perceives a shortage of qualified
labour force in the ‘industry’ at all levels, especially with regard to the very much-needed
skills of foreign languages, information technology and marketing. Tourism education is
seen as a problematic issue in the region and as one of the major reasons for the lack of
qualified human resources in the sector. Both, employers and National Tourism
Organisations, perceive the material taught in tourism education in institutions from their
own countries as irrelevant to the real needs of the ‘industry’. Also, the lack of dialogue
between education providers and businesses is reported by the two sets of respondents as
a point of concern.
According to Schlüter (2003), Latin American studies on tourism research have been
greatly influenced by Jafari and Aaser’s paper on the development of doctoral dissertations
with tourism as a subject of investigation. Analogous studies have been developed in countries
such as Cuba and Brazil, where, according to Schlüter, the most significant and complete
study of the topic in the region (Rejowski, 1996) has been done to date.
The existence of refereed tourism journals in the region since the early 1990s is an
indication of the growing maturity of the subject in some Latin American countries, such
as Argentine and Brazil. Also, the publication of some articles of the Argentinean
Estudios y Perspectivas en Turismo (Tourism Studies and Perspectives) in English and the
bilingual publication of all issues of the Brazilian Turismo: Visão e Ação (Tourism:Vision
and Action), in Portuguese and English, give an opportunity to researchers from the
region to disseminate their studies to the international academic community. However, it
is noteworthy that such journals still reach domestic academics much more than their
international peers.

The Brazilian Education System
To understand fully the provision of THE in Brazil, it is necessary to comprehend the
Brazilian education system. Brazilian provision of education is highly regulated by the
government through the Ministry of Education and the Federal Council of Education.
The government is the main pre-university education provider, with only a small share of
the provision of this level of education in the hands of private institutions. At the tertiary
level, on the other hand, the number of private Higher Education Institutions has increased
significantly since the New Education Principles and Guidelines Act (Lei de Diretrizes
e Bases), which sets out the structure of the Brazilian education system (Brazil, 1996). The
liberalisation of the education sector in Brazil and other Latin American countries was a
result of the subordination to multilateral agencies, such as the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, which sponsor projects
and programmes in the country and directly influence the education policies according to
their own interests (Antunes, 2002; Santos, 2002). Even with a significant increase in the
supply of higher education in the country, the percentage of youngsters aged between 18
and 24 that get to university education is only 12%, that is, the smallest in Latin America
(Gomes, 2004).
In comparison to the UK, higher education in Brazil is a lot more didactic, with more
modules and course hours. A bachelor degree in tourism, for instance, has to have at least
3000 course hours spread over a minimum of 4 years (Ansarah, 2002). Besides the traditional
route to higher education (4-year programmes), industry-oriented 2-year programmes
are a recent addition to the provision. All undergraduate curricula are fixed and
specified by government bodies and have a similar core curriculum in each subject area,
which facilitates the organisation and standardisation of programmes. This approach, however,
generally overlooks the regional needs of some parts of the country.
At the postgraduate level, there are two main routes available to students, the lato
sensu programmes and the stricto sensu ones. The former encompasses taught programmes
with a minimum of 360 course hours. Such programmes do not award degree
titles, just certificates, and are vocational in essence, directed to the development of professional
skills. The stricto sensu programmes are the equivalent to MPhil programmes
and the doctorates, with a minimum of 2–4 years, respectively. Their objectives are
mainly academic and scientific. There is also the vocational masters’ degree (Mestrado
Profissionalizante), which attempts to research and apply specific knowledge to the context
of the professional world.
Teacher qualification is a very important aspect for programmes and institutions in the
country because of the value given by the government during the authorisation process and
periodic evaluation of programmes (CEETur/SESu/MEC, 2001). Because of the rapid
increase in the supply of higher education in the country over the last 10 years, there is currently
a shortage of qualified teachers to serve all new undergraduate programmes.

The provision of THE in Brazil was initiated in 1971 with the launch of the earliest bachelor
degree in tourism in the country, at Faculdade de Turismo do Morumbi, in Brazil’s
largest city — Sao Paulo. This institution is now part of one of the leading private universities
in the country in the areas of tourism and hospitality. The Brazilian experience with
the provision of THE is different from the North American and European ones, where the
offering of tourism-related modules in other subject area programmes took place before
the creation of tourism degree programmes. Also, Brazilian hospitality and hotel management
programmes were only created subsequently to tourism ones, with the first hotel
management programme launched in 1978 (Rejowski, 1996).
According to Ansarah (2002), the provision of THE in Brazil can be divided into four
distinct phases. The earliest one, the 1970s, was marked by the creation of the country’s
first programmes. The second phase, the 1980s, was affected by the impacts of the economic
crises that most Latin American countries were facing and few new programmes
were created during this decade. The 1990s, on the other hand, represented a milestone in
the provision of higher education in Brazil. During this period, the number of tourism programmes
increased considerably — more than 900% according to Teixeira (2001). The
fourth phase, according to Ansarah (2002), will be marked by a search for a balance
between quantity and quality of programmes. Alternative curricula will be developed and
unconventional programme titles (e.g. Events Management, Eco-tourism, Recreation, etc.)
will be created in order to meet the particular needs of each region of the country.
The evolution of the growth in the number of tourism programmes in higher education
in Brazil is presented in Table 1. Due to the difficulties in obtaining official data about the
provision, different sources are used and there are some discrepancies among the discrete
sources. Such inconsistencies, whenever different numbers were available, are identified
throughout Table 1. Data about the period prior to 1994 were not available, restricting the
examination to the 1994–2005 period.
From the nearly 3.5 million students enrolled in higher education programmes in Brazil
in 2000, almost 70,000 were in travel, tourism and/or leisure education, roughly 2% of all
tertiary-level enrolments in the country.1 This figure, however, is likely to have increased
significantly over the last 5 years, since the number of programmes almost tripled from
2000. According to Silveira (2001, p. 52):
Lamentably the number of technical courses is not very significant and the
reality is that with an oversupply of undergraduate courses the market for
this kind of human resources is being filled with overqualified professionals
that lack in terms of basic skills.

Table 1: The growth in number of tourism undergraduate bachelor degree programmes in
Brazil (1994–2005).
Year -Number of programmes
1994 32a
1995 36b,*
1996 40c
1997 53d,***
1998 89d,***, 119e,**, 73f,*
1999 156e,**
2000 230d,***, 225e,**, 204f
2001 322d,***, 250g,****
2002 463h
2003 510h
2004 Not available
2005 834i,**,*****
a Ansarah and Rejowski (1994, cited in Ansarah, 2002).
b Silva, F. (2002). Hotelaria e turismo trazem muitas opções de atuação. Available at, retrieved January 18, 2005.
c Ansarah and Rejowski (1996, cited in Ansarah, 2002).
d Official data of the Ministry of Science and Technology, available at
portugues/3_Recursos_Humanos/tabelas/tab3_3_2.htm, retrieved January 24, 2005.
e Ministry of Education (cited in Teixeira, 2001).
f Rejowski (2000, cited in Ansarah, 2002).
g Brazilian Association of Tourism and Hotel Management Schools’ Managers (cited in Teixeira, 2001).
h Mota (2003).
i Data available at, retrieved before the beginning of the 2005 academic
year, January 26, 2005.
* Number of tourism, hotel management and business administration (with emphasis in tourism) programmes
** Number of bachelor degrees and 2-year technology degrees altogether.
*** Number of travel, tourism and leisure programmes altogether.
**** Number of institutions, not programmes. The same institution may offer several programmes.
***** The number includes distance learning programmes. Each location where a programme is offered is
counted as a different one.

At the postgraduate level, tourism-taught programmes are becoming increasingly more
popular in Brazil. However, the number of research degree programmes is still far lower
than the country’s needs, especially when it comes to the need for qualified lecturers for
the numerous undergraduate programmes. In 2004, there were only four programmes that
were the equivalent to the UK’s MPhil and only two doctorate programmes (Lohmann,
2004). These numbers are better understood when contrasted with the bigger picture. In
2000, there were a total of 1490 research masters’ programmes and 821 doctorate programmes
available in the country.2 Although tourism has been the subject of postgraduate
research in several programmes, the first postgraduate tourism degree programme was
only created in 1993 (Rejowski, 1996).
Taught masters’ programmes, ‘industry’-oriented, on the other hand, have grown considerably
over the last years. Most private institutions offering tourism education at the
undergraduate level see postgraduate taught programmes as a market opportunity to attract
more students. However, supply is becoming greater than demand and several programmes
do not have a sufficient number of students to start off a group. Table 2 presents the number
of tourism postgraduate programmes in the country.
According to Lohmann (2004), an undesirable lack of balance was generated
in the country by the high number of undergraduate courses in contrast with the low number
of research degree programmes. The need for qualified teachers, in particular, is
deeply affected by this situation, where, at the same time, the number of undergraduate
programmes increases, very few opportunities for research degrees are available to prospective

Level of programme Number of programmes
Taught Masters (specialisation) Not availablea
Research Masters* 4b, 5c
Doctorate* 2b,c
a Although the number is not available, it is believed to be by far larger than the others once the legal and academic
requirements are more flexible, and no institution needs to have their programmes authorised beforehand.
b Lohmann (2004).
c Panosso Netto (2003).
* Different from the structure adopted in countries such as the UK, where programmes are research-based only,
both programmes in Brazil have an initial taught phase followed by a research one.

The sustainability of the tourism education sector in the country might be under threat
because of the high number of institutions and graduates (Mota, 2003) in a market that, as
Pizam (1999) highlights, perceives low standards of quality and irrelevance of what is
being taught in the programmes to the real needs of the ‘industry’. Mota (2003) believes
tourism education in Brazil may be facing the maturity stage of its life cycle and planning
is the only way to prolong this stage and avoid an early decline of the sector. She proposes
a major study to estimate the actual growth of the tourism ‘industry’ and measure the
amount of human resources needed to fulfil the real needs of the sector.
The links between THE providers and the industry are virtually non-existent in most
cases. As in most countries, the balance between entrepreneurial, professional, academic
and vocational skills is an extremely difficult matter for most Brazilian institutions
(Silveira, 2001). The lack of recognition of the importance of tourism education and training
in formal institutions by most ‘industry’ stakeholders is an immense obstacle for further
partnerships in the creation of new programmes and adaptation of existing ones. It
also means that graduates are not highly valued by the ‘industry’.
Regarding the quality of programmes, the Ministry of Education, pressured by the
growing recognition tourism education was gaining in the academy and the increase in the
number of programmes, decided to create a commission of tourism experts (Ansarah,
2002). The founding members of this commission were responsible for preparing a set of
benchmark standards for the evaluation of quality of tourism undergraduate programmes
in the country (CEETur/SESu/MEC, 2001). Such benchmarks are used by committees visiting
institutions for authorising the opening of new programmes as well as for validating
existing ones after the first group graduates.

Rejowski (1996) made an important study of the development of tourism research in the country.
In this study, the author presents a list of all 55 dissertations and theses related to tourism
that led to an academic award at the postgraduate level in Brazilian institutions from 1975 to
1992. She highlights that such research was developed in different faculties, departments and
programmes (e.g. geography, communications, business, urban and regional planning, etc.),
especially because the first institution to offer a tourism research degree programme, the
Universidade de São Paulo (USP), only initiated its programme in 1993.
From the creation of the first Brazilian postgraduate programmes in the 1960s to the first
tourism research degree programme in 1993, tourism has received the attention of academics
from different subjects (Rejowski, 1996). The creation of the country’s first tourism programme
at the postgraduate level, however, was a milestone for the further development of tourism
research. In addition to the offering of tourism research degree programmes, the establishment
of academic journals and the publication of tourism-related books also helped Brazilian tourism
research to grow. According to Panosso Netto (2003), knowledge development in Brazil faces
several limitations and, as a result, cutting-edge research is generally outdated when compared
to the state of the art internationally. He notes that the epistemology of tourism, for instance,
has been seriously discussed by international researchers for over 40 years, whereas the topic
has only been the focus of attention in Brazil for a decade or so.
One important aspect restricting the development of cutting-edge tourism research in the
country in the past was the fact that most researchers did not have access to international publications,
first, because of the costs involved in subscribing to them, and second, because of
the language barrier. The government’s agency for human resources development in higher
education (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior — CAPES) has
recently invested a large amount of money to provide electronic access to the major international
journals in all subject areas for every single public Higher Education Institution and
for private universities offering at least one doctorate programme that has achieved a positive
evaluation (five or more in a seven-point scale).3 However, the language barrier is still a problem
to be overcome.
The growth of tourism education during the 1990s stimulated the creation of institutional
journals (but many were more similar to newsletters than to refereed journals) and a few
nationally recognised refereed ones. Currently, there are only four refereed journals in the
country acknowledged by most members of the tourism academic community. Turismo em
Análise (Tourism Analysis), first published in 1990 by Universidade de São Paulo, is not only
Brazil’s earliest tourism journal but also the most traditional and well-known. It took almost
a decade to have the second tourism journal in the country launched, Turismo: Visão e Ação
(Tourism: Vision and Action), published by the Universidade do Vale do Itajaí from 1998. In
2002, the Revista Eletrônica de Turismo (Electronic Tourism Journal), freely available on the
internet,4 was launched by the Faculdade Cenecista Presidente Kennedy. Finally, in 2003, the
first issue of the Boletim de Estudos em Hotelaria e Turismo (Journal of Tourism and Hotel
Management Studies) was published by the Faculdades Integradas da Vitória de Santo Antão.
The growing number of tourism education providers and tourism journals in Brazil, in
addition to the increasing interest about it in the academy and the easier access to international
cutting-edge research, may lead to the consolidation of a knowledge base of tourism as a
research topic. It is argued, however, that the majority of Brazilian tourism research may still
lack conceptual, theoretical and methodological maturity.
Lohmann (2004), while making a comparison between tourism research in Brazil and
Australia, argues that there is no Brazilian similar to the Council for Australian University
Tourism and Hospitality Education (CAUTHE). As a result, there is no academic conference
in the country directed to tourism experts and no outlet for cutting-edge research.
However, he also notes that the recent creation of the National Association of Postgraduate
Tourism Programmes (ANPTUR in the Portuguese acronym), is expected to help promote
tourism research in Brazil while giving researchers the opportunity for networking. It is
also important to note that several other initiatives, such as the Tourism Research Seminar
of MERCOSUR5 (the Southern Cone Common Market), organised by the Universidade de
Caxias do Sul, have developed over the last few years and some events are getting more
popular among the members of the tourism academic community. These recent initiatives
are likely to help improve the quality of tourism research in the region.

Although tourism education and research in Latin America is still in its infancy, it seems
to be taking its first steps into maturity with the explosion in the number of undergraduate
programmes and with the consolidation of some postgraduate research degree programmes
and refereed journals across the region.
Important episodes throughout the world over the last few years (e.g. foot and mouth disease
in the UK, terrorist attacks in the United States. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
(SARS) in Asia and other parts of the world and, more recently, the Asian Tsunami) have
deeply impacted on the tourism sector and regions not directly affected have the opportunity
for attracting a larger number of international tourists than ever. Therefore, tourism is
expected to grow in most Latin American countries and the perceived need for quality education
and training for the sector, highlighted in Pizam’s (1999) work, will also grow.
The possible strengthening of the links between ‘industry’ and education providers may
lead to the further development of applied research. Besides, improved communications,
offered by recent technological developments, especially the internet, have facilitated the
access to international cutting-edge research and Latin American researchers are starting
to take part in the international tourism academic community, by both keeping abreast in
terms of scholarship of developments in tourism and publishing their own work.

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