Understand the possibilities which exist in this growing industry. Learn how to start your own business, or become an ecotourism guide.

Course Code: VTR011
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Be an Ecotourism Professional

  • Start your course anytime
  • Work at the pace you choose
  • Support from an outstanding team of  professional academics with experience in ecotourism

This course provides a very solid foundation for you to forge a career in ecotourism. With what you learn here you can begin to develop solid experience in ecotourism, working for yourself, or for others.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the CERTIFICATE IN ECOTOURISM BUSINESS.
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 7 modules.

Note that each module in the CERTIFICATE IN ECOTOURISM BUSINESS is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


Quality control in any business means satisfying the customer within the limitations of the law and business ethics. When related to ecotourism it means that the ecotour manager needs to satisfy the needs of the customer whilst running the business in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner; this also includes respecting the culture of indigenous groups within the areas visited.
There are several ways in which the Ecotour Manager can achieve this and could include the following quality control mechanisms:

  1. Follow a code of practice
  2. Undertake an accreditation program
  3. Follow a quality system
  4. Apply for certification

Planning for Minimal Impact

To run a business effectively and successfully it you must plan. In the area of ecotourism this doesn’t just relate to economic business and marketing plans but also to environmental impact planning. Tourism can have negative environmental impacts and it is in the best interest of the ecotour manager to ensure that they follow a responsible well thought out plan. The plan should also help to bring about some positive benefits.

It is important for the tour staff to interpret and implement these plans and be provided with the ability to do so. This means regular staff training. Staff throughout the entire operation should have an understanding of environmental issues as well as the operating procedures of the business. They should also have a thorough knowledge of who, what and where each tour is operating to further help minimise environmental impact as well as ensure smooth running of the business and tour in general.

When planning for specific tours it is important to take into consideration for example if there are language barriers with the participants. A language barrier could lead to lack of control and also a lack of understanding in relation to environmental controls that may be in place. i.e. a tourist may not know that a bin is for recycling material only.  Research is the key to success for these issues. You will need to conduct research in relation to permits and licensing as well as consult with the appropriate local groups and authorities representing the area and constantly monitor change.

Management Research

  1. The social, cultural and ecological features
  2. Contact park managers, area managers, local government, community groups and land councils.
  3. All the aspects in relation to codes of conduct for the area (there could be more than one i.e. bush walking may vary to marine activities.
  4. Protocols and procedures relevant to your tour of the area. (this may be in relation to indigenous title or restrictions.) 

As well as consulting with relevant authorities, groups and so on it is also important to consult with staff ensuring that they are aware of the scope of your operation. Listen to advice.

Obtain relevant permits

Before you begin operating, make sure that you have contacted all relevant authorities to obtain the permits that you will need. Permits often come with operating conditions, which may mean that you will need to alter some of the ways in which you originally intended to run your activities.



It is important to monitor and evaluate each activity and tour. This means that you constantly be revising and improving your ecotour management skills as well as the daily business of the operation. Monitoring and producing subsequent reports can help you to prevent disasters as well as help you to offer your clients a better experience. It is better to prevent a disaster than to clean up after one.


Developing a minimal Impact Operations Manual

An effective operations manual is an invaluable asset to all business. The operations manual will not only cover the day to day administration guidelines for you business but also to encompass the entire operation. It should include such aspects as risk management and workplace health and safety. An operations manual will also outline the procedures for minimal impact planning as discussed earlier. It should be a usable set of policies and procedures. It gives you and, importantly, your staff, an easily accessible means of determining how the issues that you have identified in the planning process should be addressed within the context of running a business.

For example, during your research into the environmental conditions and sensitivity of an area you may have discovered that there are a number of problems specific to your area such as eroded tracks, impacted campsites and endangered animals.

When developing your operations manual, you would therefore devise procedures to prevent your business from further contributing to these problems: you would probably detail specific methods for track use, setting up camp, limiting group size and reducing wildlife disturbance.
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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Alison Pearce

University Lecturer, Quality Assurance Manager, Writer and Research Technician. Alison originally graduated with an honors degree in science from university and beyond that has completed post graduate qualifications in education and eco-tourism. She has m

Timothy Walker B.A.(Botany), RHS.M. Hort., Post.Grad.Dip.Ed.

Botanist, Horticulturist and Gardener. Author and lecturer at Somerville College, Oxford. After training at a number of gardens including Windsor Great Park, and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew commenced work at Oxford Botanic Gardens in 1986. Appointed as

Dr Robert Browne

Zoologist, Environmental Scientist and Sustainability, science based consultancy with biotechnology corporations. Work focused on conservation and sustainability.
Robert has published work in the fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and develop

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