Did you know that the tourism and hospitality industry accounts for more than 10% of global GDP?
That’s quite a big chunk of the world economic pie. Furthermore, the tourism and hospitality industry has been experiencing record growth in recent years, according to Deloitte.
Clearly, travel has a huge impact on the global economy.
So, if you have a passion for the open road, it makes sense to work in the tourism field. An abundance of opportunities exist. You’ll get to develop a career that you love, meet people from around the globe, make travel more memorable for others, and see the world (most jobs involve traveling!).
But how do you become an attractive candidate for tourism and hospitality jobs?
It begins with boosting your resume through quality work experience. You should also learn new skills, like the ability to speak another language.
Moreover, given the global nature of tourism and hospitality, gaining international experience will increase your employability with hotels, airlines, travel providers, tourism agencies, and other employers in the sector.
We’ll cover all you need to know about international tourism and hospitality internships and volunteer programs in this article. This way, you’ll understand how to get your career off to a good start.
What do Hospitality and Tourism Internships and Volunteer Programs Involve?
When it comes to hospitality and tourism internships, you’ll see that the diverse array of programs reflects the diverse nature of the industry. You’ll find all sorts of internship positions across the planet.
For example, if you hope to work in hospitality and tourism management in fast-growing markets, you can find a relevant internship with a company in popular travel destinations like India, Jamaica, and Kenya. Companies in these countries, especially small- and medium-sized businesses like boutique hotels, restaurants, and tourism operators, require expertise in attracting and serving international clients.
Or, if you wish to specialize in ecotourism and wildlife travel, you can find plenty of internships and volunteer programs abroad through organizations like:
- Love Volunteers: Passionate about making it affordable for volunteers to make a difference, Love Volunteers features numerous nature-based service programs.
- Plan My Gap Year (PMGY): An award-winning volunteer travel organization, PMGY has lots of animal conservation projects that teach you about sustainable wildlife travel.
- Raleigh International: Through Raleigh International, an organization focused on inspiring people to create positive change, you can volunteer at a national park in Costa Rica. This will get you experience in national park management.
If you seek structured professional development for your career in tourism and hospitality management, you can find that through programs offered by Maximo Nivel and Intern Abroad HQ. Their programs will give you a thorough overview of all that goes into hospitality and tourism management. Their internships train you in crucial functions such as:
- media and communications
- marketing and sales
- human resources
- business management and administration
- information technology
- international development
From hotel operations to travel sales to tourism development, you have many avenues within the tourism and hospitality industry. Whatever you aspire to do, there are intern and volunteer abroad programs that can prepare you well.
Featured Organizations & Programs
So that you can effectively learn about all the trustworthy hospitality and tourism internships and volunteer abroad programs out there, we’ve listed the most reputable organizations and programs below. See what catches your eye!
Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel is the most reviewed and top-rated study and volunteer abroad organization in Latin America. Known for their transparency and commitment to making an impact, more than 5,000 people choose Maximo Nivel every year for their volunteer, study, or intern abroad adventure.
If you want to do your internship in Latin America, and learn Spanish to benefit your hospitality and tourism career, look no further than Maximo Nivel. Their professional internship programs will improve your CV and train you thoroughly for real work in the hospitality industry.
Price: from $1,495 (Guatemala), $1,525 (Peru), and $1,925 for 4 weeks
Latin America’s travel and tourism sector contributes nearly $150 billion to the region’s GDP every year, making the industry vital to the economic health of countries there. As a tourism and hospitality intern with Maximo Nivel, you’ll work in marketing, sales and client service, and operations. You’ll learn to wear multiple hats, study best business practices, and even communicate with guests in Spanish.
So, come ready to learn. Maximo Nivel’s internships can increase your marketability and enable you to launch an international tourism and hospitality career.
Maximo Nivel has hospitality internships in three different countries in Latin America:
- Hospitality and tourism internship in Guatemala: See what your talents can achieve in the fast-growing tourism industry in Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage city that stuns with architectural wonders and surrounding natural beauty (including volcanoes).
- Hospitality and Tourism Internship in Peru: Journey to Cusco, once the heart of the Inca Empire. Machu Picchu is nearby! In Cusco, you’ll increase your skill-set and professional network as you help tourism businesses improve and expand.
- Hospitality and Tourism Internship in Costa Rica: As one of the region’s most advanced economies, an internship in Costa Rica provides a hands-on professional development opportunity. Held in San Jose, you’ll be near restaurants, stores, and nightlife, and you’ll have time to visit surrounding rainforests and beaches.
All of these options sound wonderful, right? No wonder past volunteers give Maximo Nivel’s hospitality internship program great reviews, such as Tyler:
“I had an awesome experience with Maximo Nivel in Cusco, Peru on the Hospitality and Tourism Internship. Maximo Nivel is extremely flexible to your needs and does an awesome job placing you in a project that fits your desires and career ambitions.”
Intern Abroad HQ specializes in affordable and flexible internships overseas. As a leader in the professional international internships arena, Intern Abroad HQ has a constantly growing portfolio of placements, with destinations including tourism hotspots like Greece and Bali.
Intern Abroad HQ has numerous hospitality internships abroad. These projects are goal-oriented and employ an experiential learning model, ensuring you gain the tools necessary to succeed in the industry. Through their internships, you can see the world, boost your resume, and improve relevant skills, like how to network with important clients. Internships revolve around guest relations, operations management, and marketing and sales.
Price: from $1,298 for 2 weeks
Get insights into the thriving tourism industry in Ireland as you experience “The Emerald Isle” and research travel activities. For this tourism internship, you’ll work with an agency in Dublin and go on tours around the country. Your responsibility is to critically assess these activities, study tourism operations, and help create better marketing strategy and development.
If you want to begin a career in tourism and hospitality, this program is calling your name. Are you ready?
Price: from $1,534 for 8 weeks
Ready for a thrilling professional development adventure? Then make your way to Zanzibar, a beautiful Indian Ocean island and archipelago. During your tourism and hospitality internship in Zanzibar, you’ll work at a hotel, watersports center, or tour operator. You’ll get hands-on experience in a rapidly growing tourism market, which will benefit you tremendously.
When you have free time, the beautiful beaches await. Zanzibar is also close to prime safari circuits on Tanzania’s mainland. Without a doubt, you’ll have a blast on this internship abroad.
Founded in 1998, Global Vision International is an award-winning volunteer abroad organization that runs high-quality sustainable development and experiential education programs in 13 countries. GVI’s great work has earned them recognition from the likes of Save the Children, Panthera, and Stanford University.
If you want to build a career in coastal and marine tourism, GVI has you covered. Specifically, their divemaster internships can give you the qualifications to lead recreational dives and train other aspiring divers.
Price: from $594 per week (Fiji); $459 per week (Mexico)
Want to achieve Divemaster status? It requires the completion of 60 dives, which will be a ton of fun. Once you finish, you’ll have an important certification for landing jobs in marine tourism.
Even better, GVI’s Divemaster programs take you to terrific tropical destinations. Through GVI, you can sign up for PADI Divemaster internships in:
- Fiji: Protect coral reefs as you master the art of diving. The beautiful underwater environment will amaze you. And the top-notch beach scene in Fiji will relax you during free time. Register here!
- Mexico: Journey to the Yucatan Peninsula and explore Mexico’s marvelous Caribbean coast. You’ll study the marine ecosystem and learn how to teach others about the local waters. Sign up here!
A leading ecotourism company, GoEco launched in 2006 to advance sustainable travel. They’ve had much success, having placed more than 17,000 volunteers and interns in programs abroad. GoEco was also recognized as the 2018 Top Volunteer Abroad Organization by GoAbroad.
If you want a job in ecotourism abroad, GoEco can get you there with their tourism and hospitality internships and nature volunteer programs.
Price: just $350 for 6 weeks (same price for 12 weeks)
Journey to the amazing city of Barcelona, where you’ll work in a hostel. Greet and care for guests, provide travel advice, assist with operations, and participate in the lodging’s sustainability initiatives, including the promotion of ethical travel and use of green energy.
During free time, Barcelona, with Gaudí buildings, the happening Gothic Quarter, and charming Catalan culture, comes ready to delight.
Past volunteers have wonderful things to say about this hospitality internship in Barcelona, like Arian:
“I can only describe this trip as one of the happiest times of my life. Being able to integrate every day with people from all over the world and having the whole of Barcelona on your doorstep was incredible!”
Price: from $1,350 for 2 weeks
As a volunteer for great white shark conservation, you’ll work with a Fair Trade Tourism and Blue Flag certified ecotourism organization. In addition to researching great whites, you’ll take part in ecotours designed to promote sustainable travel, including ethical shark dives and whale watching expeditions. You’ll also help out at an African penguin and seabird sanctuary.
If you want to establish an ecotourism and conservation career, this program is a smart choice. And when you’re not working, enjoy Gansbaai, a stunning fishing town in Western Cape.
Founded with a mission to preserve unspoiled natural environments and uplift indigenous peoples, Fronteering offers a variety of inexpensive, off-the-beaten-path volunteer abroad opportunities. Fronteering’s projects are often in remote, beautiful locations in countries like the United States, Brazil, Namibia, and Indonesia.
Among Fronteering’s volunteer abroad programs, you’ll find numerous opportunities in the tourism sector. As a volunteer, you can help local communities support themselves through sustainable tourism and preserve their way of life.
Price: from $1,495 for 4 weeks
Travel to the Rupununi Savannah, a diverse region of savanna plains, swamplands, tropical forests, and mountains. There, you’ll volunteer at one of Guyana’s first sustainable farms and ecotourism lodges. As a volunteer, you can assist with hospitality management, farming, landscaping, and/or librarian work. Your work will go a long way in helping the Amerindian community develop a self-sufficient sustainable tourism operation.
When you’re not volunteering, immerse yourself in local Amerindian culture and soak up the surrounding environment. This experience will truly open your eyes.
Price: from $2,495 for 4 weeks
Want to visit the world’s largest wetland? Then head to the Pantanal in Mato Grosso do Sul. As a tourism volunteer in Southern Brazil, you’ll support the development of the Pantanal’s sustainable tourism strategies. You’ll train to be a Pantanal tour guide, learning astronomy and geology and how to track mammals and identify birds. Once you know the Pantanal well enough, you’ll get the chance to lead guests on activities.
The Pantanal is one of the world’s last real frontiers. And you can become an expert guide for the region! How cool is that?
Naturally Africa Volunteers is your go-to program provider if you want to intern or volunteer in Africa. Committed to helping volunteers make a difference across the continent, Naturally Africa Volunteers runs projects in numerous fields, including education, healthcare, community outreach, and tourism.
Considering that Africa’s tourism sector has been growing at 5.6% (compared to the global average of 3.9%), the region is the perfect place for professional development if you hope to build a career in hospitality and tourism. Most of Naturally Africa Volunteers’ tourism-related programs and courses center around wildlife and conservation. This makes them a great choice if you want to improve your CV for jobs in ecotourism (a rising industry).
Price: inquire here; the course lasts 28 days
Want to enjoy an authentic wildlife experience as you learn the skills required to be a Field Guide? You’ll learn all about the natural environment and what it takes to lead safaris. Subjects include:
- ecology, geology, and soils
- vegetation identification
- habitat management
- animal tracking
- astronomy and climate
You’ll also learn various guiding skills, such as radio procedures and how to operate a vehicle in wilderness areas. For the safari guide course, you get to choose among three spectacular settings: the renowned Kruger National Park or the Karongwe Game Reserve of South Africa, or the Northern Tuli Game Reserve of Botswana.
Price: inquire here
Greet the majestic West Coast of Ghana! As an ecotourism volunteer in Ghana, you’ll stay at an eco-friendly guesthouse and work on projects designed to boost the sustainability of the area (mainly turtle conservation). You’ll perform beach patrols, collect data on turtles, and host educational workshops on environmental conservation. You’ll also assist with tourist hikes to see turtle nesting spots.
When you’re not volunteering, immerse yourself in the splendid community of Akwidaa, relax on the beach, and more. So, are you already packing your bags?
Established in 1989, Frontier has placed more than 103,000 people in programs abroad. They have all kinds of volunteer and intern abroad programs, as well as gap year adventures. Each project aims to deliver a positive impact on local communities and create lasting memories for volunteers.
If you want to jumpstart your hospitality and tourism career, Frontier has some excellent internship programs, including the two below!
Price: from $1,895 for 4 weeks
Gain practical experience in hospitality and tourism in Samana, a stunning town in the Dominican Republic. As you shadow hospitality leaders and work at a hotel, your tasks will include:
- sales and marketing
- human resources
During your hospitality internship abroad, you’ll get plenty of insight into the challenges and opportunities the Dominican Republic’s tourism industry has. You’ll also get to take Spanish lessons (being bilingual can benefit your tourism and hospitality career!). During free time, enjoy all that Samana has to offer, from snorkeling and whale watching to relaxing on the beach.
Price: from $795 for 6 weeks
Want to do your tourism internship in Jerusalem? Then join Frontier there. You’ll intern at a lively backpacker hostel in downtown Jerusalem, and meet travelers from all walks of life. During this program, you’ll assist with daily operations, such as reception duties, serving drinks, and providing guests with travel advice. The hostel focuses on promoting eco-friendly tours, so you can help guests go on some amazing excursions.
When you’re not working, interact with other like-minded international guests, do a walking tour of the Old City, visit Machane Yehuda Market, enjoy the nightlife, and more. Sounds like quite the trip, right?
Making the Most of Your Hospitality and Tourism Work Experience Abroad
You should now understand how international work experience can kickstart your hospitality and tourism career. In addition to considering your budget and personal preferences, choose an internship or volunteer abroad program that aligns with your desired career path.
After all, you want to have fun. But you also want to learn and grow. By the time you come home, you should be ready to take your hospitality and tourism career to the next level, whether that be a job, grad school, or starting your own business!
For more options on obtaining international experience in hospitality and tourism, check out our other resources: