How to Become an Ecotourism Guide

Eco tourism is a newly emerging trend in travel industry. This is a mode of travel that celebrates nature and creates bridges between commercial vacation tours and environment awareness. With the global warming and other major environmental issues that affect our Planet, eco tourism is a welcome development as this aims at and is able to instill in people the importance of conserving and respecting nature.

Becoming an ecotourism guide is easier than you think

At present there are no special pre-requisite educational qualifications for taking up ecotourism as your career. However, the following knowledge base and skills would be helpful:

  1. Excellent communication skills - you would be required to transfer knowledge about environment and ecological issues without giving the impression of lecturing, so communication skills should be impeccable. You would be required to make the commentary pleasant so the visitors would be interested to learn more.
  1. Knowledge of at least one international language such as English, French, and German – you would have to interact with people of all nationalities and therefore knowledge of one or more language is a must, to communicate comfortably with your group.
  1. Up-to-date information about your particular niche – needless to say that you need to impress upon your visitors that you are an expert in your area. You should be able to give an accurate interpretation of the key elements in the environment where you take your group of tourists; you should be able to project the relationship between your niche habitat and humans.
  1. Awareness about international issues – not only you should know about all that is to know about your particular niche, but also the relevant environmental issues on global level. The impact your presentation would make on your group of tourists would be commensurate to your ability to project yourself as an expert in your field.
  1. Excellent organizer – whether you work as a freelancer or as part of a travel agency or any other body, you would need to be an excellent manager. You would be responsible for the safety, accommodation, and transportation of your group. This would mean that you should be able to plan and implement a group tour without a hitch. Leadership qualities are a big plus.
  1. Safety measures – depending the area where you are planning your eco-tours you need to learn and apply all the required international standard safety measures. It pays to obtain specific certification in this field, as safety of the tourists is one of the biggest concerns with eco-tourism.

Freelancing versus a job as a ecotourism guide

  1. Freelancing as ecotourism guide – you need to decide whether you want to function as a freelance ecotourism guide or take up a job. As a freelancer, your area of operation may be limited to your locality, which has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that you are very familiar with the terrain and people and hence you could organize some great eco-tours almost effortlessly. The disadvantage is that you would not be able to move on and see more of the world and different ecosystems.
  1. Taking up a job as an ecotourism guide – there are many travel agency now which offer ecotourism vacation and travel tours. In case you want to take up a job, you need to draw up a list of such agencies and apply. Ensure that you highlight the skills that would make you stand out as the best candidate. These include, languages spoken, communication skills, ecotourism courses completed, past experience as an ecotourism guide, among others. The openings for such a job are not limited to travel agencies. Luxury cruise ships, hotels, and local universities also look for such people.

Courses that would help you establish yourself as a professional

  1. Courses that can help you build a career – though there are no pre-requisites in this field, yet it definitely pays to have focused knowledge on the subject. Bachelor in Ecotourism will look good on you resume. You could acquire this degree online or through regular classes. Besides a Bachelor’s degree, there are plenty of short-term certificate courses that would help you understand better your niche so knowledge transfer between you and your group of tourists is rewarding to both parties.

Online resources:

  • acsedu.co.uk - an excellent source for online course on eco tourism
  • www.tcc.fl.edu - this site provides you with a green guide program for nature guides and environmentalists, plus a number of eco tourism courses
  • www.jobguide.thegoodguides.com.au- information on related associations and professional bodies
  • http://www.ecojobs.com/index.php - a site that advertise ecotourism jobs; this is a good point to start if you are looking for a job as a ecotourism guide
  • travel.nytimes.com– here you will find some best destination of ecotourism as presented in the New York Times Travel. Very informative.

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Dolores Tepez
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Posted on Feb 12, 2009