Specialist Award In Ecotourism

Learn to establish, operate and manage an ecotourism enterprise. Professional development for tourism, environmental management or related disciplines to broaden & deepen career or business opportunities.

Course Code: BTR001
Fee Code: PA
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 500 hours
Qualification Specialist Award
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Start a Business or Get a Job in Ecotourism

Study from home, for Professional Development or to starting a new business

Develop your ability to establish, operate and manage an ecotourism enterprise and increase your knowledge on all aspects of running such a venture. The three courses within this award cover management of issues such as safety, legal considerations, destinations, accommodation, and management issues, planning, organising and conducting ecotourism services (such as guiding and tours). You will also have the benefit of applying these learnt skills in a workplace or research projects and/or work experience.

Comment from one of our Ecotourism students: "I am learning so much" J. Alderton


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Specialist Award In Ecotourism.
 Industry Project I BIP000
 Industry Project II BIP001
 Ecotourism Tour Guide Course BTR301
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 4 modules.
 Ecotour Management BTR101
 Bushcraft And Wilderness Activities (Survival Skills) BTR201
 Farm Tourism BTR205
 Garden Tourism BTR303

Note that each module in the Specialist Award In Ecotourism is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Scope of Nature Based Tourism

Ecotourists and tourists looking for a nature-based experience undertake a wide range of activities.

These activities are extremely varied and may include:

  • Nature Photography
  • Camping
  • Bush walking
  • Observing animals
  • Bird watching
  • Whale watching
  • Turtle watching
  • Crocodile watching
  • Dolphins, seals, reptiles etc
  • Observing wildflowers and other plants
  • Scientific study
  • Backpacking
  • Art tours
  • Diving
  • Heritage tours
  • Rafting
  • Cycling
  • Rock climbing
  • Abseiling
  • Drawing of native plants and animals or landscapes.

Most ecotourists are looking for a combination of passive and active activities set in a natural environment. They also tend to see their holiday as an adventure experience and will participate in adventure type activities i.e. abseiling as well as perceiving the experience as educative and an enjoyment of the natural biodiversity of the environment.

The demand for outdoor pursuits and adventure experiences is most popular in the 20-40 year age bracket. Interpretative services relating to natural, cultural and historical experiences were sought mainly by well-educated professional people above 35 years of age. This client segment also had a preference for high level of comfort with access to natural areas. Backpackers are also a large component of the ecotour market. They tend to choose very low cost accommodation and tend to spend money on organised short ecotours.

Ecotourists will travel long distances to see endangered species, especially large, exotic mammals and birds. Ecotourists interested in wildlife may spend entire days looking for birds. They want to spend their time in nature. They will often be interested in minute nature, like insect species or mangrove soil types, and local culture. They are likely to come primarily for a big attraction (such as the Panda bear or the unique wildlife in Australia) but they will want to see other nature and local celebrations and rituals. They will want to experience these things in an environmentally friendly - they will prefer to walk, bike or boat to have a unique experience in nature.


Ecotourists from abroad usually come to experience a dramatically beautiful landscape. Ecotourists do not want their natural experience spoiled by development of any kind. They do not want urbanization, even tourist facilities, to blemish the natural landscape. Large natural areas need to be preserved for wildlife habitat and to provide the setting tourists demand. Some landscape examples that come to mind include the views of the Grand Canyon from above, Niagara Falls, Jokulsarlon (glacial lagoon in Iceland), The Himalayan foothills and Ayres Rock in Australia.

Distinctive Character

Visitors from abroad will come to experience history, culture and architecture. They want to see what is distinctive. They will not come to see suburban sprawl and buildings that look like everywhere else. The preservation of the unique character of architecture, villages and the landscape is required. Avoiding modernization, to a degree, by keeping roads narrow and preserving "old style" buildings for tourist accommodations will maintain the unique character of a place. The beautiful old villages of rural Japan still have old style buildings and traditional accommodation right alongside beautiful rivers and walking tracks. Even the emergency huts on some of the hiking trails have the unique Japanese style.

Experienced and Knowledgeable Hosts

International ecotourists expect knowledgeable local hosts in restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts, museums, and on tours. They expect professional, friendly service. Ecotourists really appreciate hosts and tour guides who can provide "inside" local information and details of the ecology, history and culture. They will also pay a premium for knowledgeable service.

Unique Events and Experiences

Sophisticated foreign travelers want to experience things other tourists don't get to see. They want to actually participate in local culture. They want to be part of religious festivals and learn first-hand what local people do. Foreign ecotourists and visitors will pay to help you do your work. For example, they will pay to help you harvest oysters, clams or fish. They generally prefer very small groups and hands-on learning. They definitely want to feel like they have gotten behind the scenes and experienced the true local culture that others might have missed. Ecotourists are likely to be willing to pay a local guide to take them fishing and help prepare the food. In many countries such as Thailand tourists pay local people to teach them how to prepare and cook traditional foods. Sophisticated tourists want to see local arts, crafts and work tools. They especially enjoy seeing them being made. It is not unusual for some of these visitors to spend a thousand dollars on a locally made art. This can be seen in many parts of Asia where tourists are taken to arts and craft markets or out of the way factories to see traditionally made arts and crafts.


The Industry Experience - The Practical Aspect to this Course  

The 200 hours of work experience must be satisfied before receiving your award.

One Option

If you work in the industry that you have been studying; you may submit a reference from your employer, in an effort to satisfy this industry (i.e. workplace project) requirement; on the basis of RPL (i.e. recognition for prior learning), achieved through your current and past work experience. The reference must indicate that you have skills and an awareness of your industry, which is sufficient for you to work in a position of responsibility.

Second Option

If you do not work in the industry and have the work experience for these 200 hours, you need to undertake either some structured or unstructured work experience and study to fulfil this requirement.

Talk to us to find out more about how to fulfil this part of the course.  


Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

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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 managed veterinary operating theatre, responsible for animal anesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures.

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 development, husbandry, thermo-biology, reproduction technologies, and facility design.Robert has B.Sc., Ph, D.

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