Background to the Faculty and the Undergraduate Programme Background

The history of the Faculty dates back to the end of the decade of the 1960s (20th Century), when the national government described tourism as an activity that generated foreign exchange, employment, and urban and regional growth. The purpose was to establish an economic and social development factor that would benefit from special protection and promotion from the State. This initiative was enacted in Law 60 of 1968, entitled Tourism Framework Law.

During the decade of the 1970s, the development of this area was significant. It was evidenced in the new housing offer and tourist services offered; the increase in the demand for tourism from foreigners; and the growth in national and domestic tourism. Added to this, there was the generation of subsidised tourism, also known as Social Tourism,” which was being promoted through government and private sector plans. At the same time, these circumstances required a profession that could undertake such work under new criteria. This was stated by the National Planning department (1971): “The accelerated growth of Hotel, Travel Agencies and Tourist means of Transport are demanding, with increasing urgency, professional development in number and high quality. The lack of specialised personnel for hotel and complementary services directly affects the poor quality of the offer, resulting in higher cost overruns for the sector. The lack of technical and specialised personnel in tourism investigations, market research, demand promotion, and statistics, among others adversely affect compliance with national plans.”

This new scenario required programmes of study for human resources both at technical, technological level, and university professional levels. It is important to highlight that the National Learning Service (SENA in Spanish) had been managing the first two levels. Regarding the second, it was necessary to structure an academic programme at that level since it did not exist. The type of professional required was one who would be able to guide, promote and develop tourism with a comprehensive vision.

Under this context, and in view of these new perspectives, Externado de Colombia University took on the challenge of responding with an academic programme of the highest level. Thus, it was meeting the need for professional performance. In the month of October 1972, the Faculty of Economic Sciences prepared the blueprint of the Hotel and Tourism Management programme. To this end, it took as one of its international references, the curriculum of the tourism programme from the Autonomous University of Guadalajara (Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara), Mexico. In addition, Externado University learnt from other experiences of the same type in American and European American countries. It took into account the country’s needs regarding human resources training at that level.

On 11 January 1974, the programme entitled Hotel and Tourism Management started its academic implementation, issuing the professional title of Hospitality and Tourism Administrator. Said programme was attached to the Faculty of Economic Sciences, as a department, together with the Economics, Business Administration and Accounting programmes. The programme, after the regulatory visit by ICFES, issued Agreement number 201 of 12 September 1975, through which the operating license was granted. Subsequently, it was approved through agreement No. 96 of 23 July 1979, and by Resolution No. 15485 of 11 September 1979 of the Ministry of Education.

Altogether, the final academic design resulted in a totally new programme, which tried to reconcile the emphasis that European schools used to give to the quality of the services and the refinement of the food and beverage profession, with the most modern tendencies of business management. The latter being more typical of the North American school, whose respective emphasis was centred on planning, finance, and marketing.

In 1987, the University’s Board of Directors, as stated in Act number 001, transformed said department into a faculty, keeping the same name – Hospitality and Tourism Administration. Its title was expedited until October 1993. From the year 1994 and, in accordance with Act No. 11 of 22 September 1993, the Faculty’s Board of Directors authorised the programme’s change of name to Tourism and Hotel Business Administration, which led to the corresponding title, and which was registered under ICFES resolution number 584 of 4 April 1994.

The undergraduate programme has undergone some adjustments, to bring it in line with the real world. To do this, the trends of higher education, the changing characteristics of the country and the dynamics of the national and international tourism sector have been taken into account. As a result, curricular adjustments have been made since its creation. These have taken place in the years 1976, 1982, 1993, 1998, 2011, 2016, 2019 and 2020.

During its history, the faculty has had a set of achievements in the academic and research fields which, at the same time, have made significant contributions to the development of the tourism sector. In the current conditions of the national and global context, it is emerging as the axis of social, economic, and cultural advancement of the country.

It should be noted that one of the characteristics that identifies the programme, since its creation, is the constant investigation of the socio-economic reality in which the tourism sector of the country is registered. For this reason, growing investigative activity has been undertaken, which has been visible through activities such as the development of projects for the public sector and the business sector, at the local, regional, and national levels. Furthermore, since July 2003, the «Tourism and Society» group, comprising teachers and researchers with interdisciplinary training, who are attached to the faculty’s research lines, was recognised by Colciencias. This was the first time that this entity had granted this recognition to a group in this discipline, in the country, within the areas of knowledge of applied social sciences. In 2017, and in line with the change in Colciencias’ system of recategorization, the group was reassigned to category C. From 2019, in the frame of the results of the request for bids (883 of 2018), the team ascended to category B and its work was disseminated in the Yearbook that bears the same name. It is indexed by said institution under category C. It forms part of the following databases: Clase, Engage Learning, Dialnet, SSRN, OJS (Open Journal System), E-Journals (Spanish and Latin American journal portals), DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) and EBSCO (Mexico).

Likewise, it has been consolidating its sector leadership through postgraduate programmes. This includes the Master’s in Tourism Planning and Management with Qualified Registration granted through Resolution 1261 in 2019 (8 cohorts); Senior Management and Hotel Development, with Qualified Registration granted by Resolution 19085 in 2017; and the master’s degree in Innovation Management in Events and Gastronomy, with Qualified Registration granted by Resolution 015450 in 2019. There are also several specialisations. Similarly, in the area of Continuing Education it offers a wide range of seminars, courses, and diplomas. The target areas of action for all these programmes include Bogotá and the main cities of the country. On some occasions, it has spread to neighbouring countries such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.

In relation to the Certification and Accreditation processes, in September 2001, the Faculty decided to voluntarily submit to the international academic quality assessment for tourism education programmes and obtained the TEDQUAL Quality Certification from the World Tourism Organisation. It was renewed in 2006, 2014 and 2018.

Regarding the National Accreditation, in May 2002, after a judicious self-assessment process and within the framework of the guidelines established by the Rector’s Office of Externado de Colombia University and by the National Accreditation Council, the Tourism and Hotel Business Administration programme was accredited for a period of three years, through Resolution 1026 of 14 May 2002 of the Ministry of National Education.

Subsequently and through resolution 5667 of 20 September 2006 and 10634 of 9 July 2014, the Ministry of National Education renewed the voluntary accreditation to the Hotel and Tourism Business Administration programme for a term of seven (7) and eight (8) years, respectively.

The qualified registration, granted through Resolution 110 of 21 January 2009 was renewed according to Resolutions 8485 of 11 June 2015 and 0017446 of 17 September 2020, for a term of seven years in each case. Likewise, the qualified registry was modified through Resolutions 006167 of 13 June 2019 and 009690 of 16 June 2020. The Ministry of National Education clarified that because it was a programme in operation, it maintained SNIES code 1116.