Spanish internship: Nicole Cocolas is working at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in Spain during 2011.
Spanish internship: Nicole Cocolas is working at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in Spain during 2011.
1 July 2011

A graduate from The University of Queensland (UQ), Nicole Cocolas, is soaking up the Spanish sunshine while completing a sought after internship at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) headquarters in Madrid.

After completing a Bachelor of International Hotel and Tourism Management with the UQ School of Tourism, Nicole received her big break when she won an internship position working in the UNWTO’s Regional Program for Asia and the Pacific.

“This is the best type of graduate position I could imagine. I essentially went straight from finishing my undergraduate degree to working for a specialised division of the United Nations,” Ms Cocolas said.

“I learned a lot about organisational structure, along with an understanding of the role of tourism in government departments in various countries. I’m also further developing my understanding of UNWTO and its role in the tourism sector.”

Ms Cocolas was asked to research the situation in Japan immediately after the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.

“We collected information on how the countries with major tourism inflows into Japan, such as Korea and Australia, reacted to the disaster,” she said.

“The information was then collated and provided to UNWTO’s head of Risk and Crisis Management, who attended a meeting with World Health Organisation to discuss a plan of action,” Ms Cocolas said.

The Indooroopilly local believes her degree with UQ's School of Tourism provided her with the essential skills and knowledge for the role, including an understanding of the relationship between government and private sectors within the tourism industry.

The School of Tourism is one of three members of Tourism Education Quality (TedQual), an elite international membership of tourism education providers, which have undertaken to provide assistance at little or no cost to developing countries.

“I would not have this opportunity if I had not studied in the School of Tourism. I feel confident that I have the ground knowledge and understanding necessary for this position thanks to my degree,” Ms Cocolas said.

“It was also an immense help to attend a TedQual University, which has strong ties and a good relationship with UNWTO.

“This is the best possible position for me to develop an understanding of the global tourism sector, while also developing my personal network.”

Ms Cocolas plans to do as much travelling and sightseeing as possible during her internship, both in Spain and the rest of Europe.

“It would be a wasted opportunity for me to live in Europe for a year and not take full advantage of the location,” she said.

“Spain is an amazing place, and in summer the sun doesn’t set until around 10pm. I will be able to finish work, grab a jamón baguette and some Sangria, and join the festivities in Retiro Park. Spaniards are very festive people and there is always a great vibe around town.”

Nicole also travelled to Switzerland in April to attend the World Tourism Forum Lucerne. She was one of just seven ‘Young Talents’ selected worldwide to present her paper on sustainability and meet tourism industry leaders and academics from around the world.

Media: Claire Shuter, School of Tourism, (07) 3346 9259,