Qualification - Certificate in Ecotourism Business

Course CodeVTR011
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours


Ecotourism is booming globally ... be part of it!

Study ecotourism to develop the skills you need to run a SUCCESSFUL ecotourism business. This course provides an excellent foundation for any Ecotourism business - new or existing.  This course draws from international influences across a range of disciplines - not only to do you get to learn the exciting business of ecotourism guiding and management, but also the fundamental elements to running a successful business such as business operations and marketing. These practical skills combined with an exciting choice in environmental topics such as marine biology, earth science, ornithology or electives such as adventure tourism and wilderness activities make this course a sure ticket to success.
  • Birdwatching
  • Introduction to Ecology
  • Marine Studies
  • Nature Park management
  • Bushcraft and Wilderness Activities
  • Wildlife Management
  • Earth Science
  • Adventure Tourism 


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Certificate in Ecotourism Business.
 Business Operations VBS006
 Ecotour Management BTR101
 Ecotourism Tour Guide Course BTR301
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 14 modules.
 Birdwatching (Ornithology or Birding) study at home BEN012
 Bookkeeping Foundations BBS103
 Classroom Delivery Skills BGN106
 Introduction To Ecology BEN101
 Marine Studies I BEN103
 Marketing Foundations VBS109
 Nature Park Management I BEN120
 Bed and Breakfast Management BTR203
 Bushcraft and Wilderness Activities BTR201
 Earth Science BEN204
 Farm Tourism BTR205
 Wildlife Management BEN205
 Adventure Tourism BTR302
 Garden Tourism BTR303

Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate in Ecotourism Business is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

What is Ecotourism?

There are many different types of ecotour developments, ranging from small scale bed and breakfast operations to large eco-resorts. The following list is indicative of the range of ecotourist facilities:

  • Caravan parks
  • Campsites that are specifically built to suit the ecotourist
  • Guest Houses
  • Back packer lodges
  • Huts and cabins
  • Houseboats
  • Farm-stays
  • Self-catering cottages
  • Eco-Resorts
  • Self-drive type vehicles
  • Cruise boats and yachts.

Ecotourism uses the natural environment or culture of a given area as its primary attraction. However the developments may also include additions such as:

  • Toilet facilities
  • Cooking facilities (eg. barbeques)
  • Car-parks
  • Kitchens (communal, communal, self catering or organised)
  • Education and information facilities
  • Signs and maps
  • Walks and pathways, steps etc.
  • Anchorage, jetties or mooring points.

This infrastructure is supplied and maintained by the local authority governing the area.
On private land this is supplied by the owner.

In planning for tourism, always remember:
• Does tourism give your area what it desires in the long term?
• What facilities and attractions can your area offer the tourist?
• What economic and physical capacity does your area have to cater to tourists?

A TOURIST is anyone travelling for either business or pleasure.

Tourists generally are travelling because they are seeking new or different experiences. The tourist will expect to be pampered, rarely giving consideration to the local individual or community which he is visiting; after all, the tourist is on holiday and is paying the bills. However, some tourists are not as focused on their own pleasures and are aware of the local communities they are visiting.

In a natural environment, the tourist can frequently cause damage; hence numbers need to be controlled if natural environments are not going to deteriorate. In a man made environment, the tourist's reaction is equally as predictable, but not necessarily as damaging. The response to a man made environment is generally affected by the quality of that environment. Most evidence indicates that the majority of tourists are looking for quality in their experiences rather than the same type of facilities and attractions repeated over and over, each place similar to the last. The most successful tourist facility is generally the quality facility offering something different, something special, or something better than other places, without sacrificing quality of services.

The tourist industry involves both large and small organisations (e.g. the one-person operated gift shop or the giant resort complex owned by a multi national company as part of a chain of resorts).

The tourist industry requires and employs the services of persons with a variety of different backgrounds including:

  • The food industry  cooks, waitresses, dish washers, restaurateurs, fast food salesmen, caterers etc.
  • The accommodation industry  motel, hotel, camp ground operators, etc.
  • Resorts and Hotels  clerks, cleaners, cooks, entertainers, recreation workers, gardeners, etc.
  • Gift Shops, shop assistant.
  • Tourist attractions  wilderness parks, amusement parks, museums, zoos, swimming facilities, etc: wildlife carers, park rangers, ride attendants, horticulture workers, teachers, presenters, etc.
  • Tour operations  providing guided tours, bus-trips, water-sports tours, bush walks, shopping tours, night-club tours, etc.

Ecotourism is a relatively new word which does not always have a clear definition.  Even though some industry bodies may have adopted a particular definition, it still means very different things to different people.

The following is one way of defining it:

ECOTOURISM is the combination of two words ECOLOGY and TOURISM. Ecology relates to the study or understanding of complex relationships in the natural world. Flora, fauna, soils, air, water and yes, even people are just some of the factors involved in interacting with one another. The nature of the relationship can be positive, negative or a combination of these or in rare instances of no consequence whatsoever. Often the longer term effects will not be readily obvious, it is for this reason that management principles are so important in this developing industry. The direction ecotourism takes will be primarily up to the people who are involved at all levels of its implementation. Poor management will result in lost resources and ultimately a failed industry.

Theoretically, ecotourism can be defined as a type of tourism where the environment, local community and visitor all benefit. In practice, the term ‘ecotourism' is often used by tour operators as a marketing tool to promote any form of tourism that is related to nature
How to Run an Ecotour
Planning is an essential ingredient in any recipe for success.  Organising an ecotour is no different in this respect and will ensure that an ecotour operation will run smoothly, and that customers will not only return, but will also spread goodwill by word of mouth. The opposite also applies; poor planning will lead to unforeseen problems, disenchanted customers and may even have safety and legal ramifications.


So what sort of things need to be planned? Obviously, not all factors can be accounted for before they happen but, with careful planning and an understanding of the possible eventualities, most problems will be able to be dealt with and the operator will be in a state of readiness to deal with any unforeseen developments.

Planning an ecotour will involve selection of a destination, transportation, accommodation, catering, equipment, what your tour will do, and how it will behave in a wilderness area.


This is an important factor that will be the basis of much of your planning.  Think about where to go, what to see and what to do. You will need to look at factors such as:

·      Weather - not just what is forecast or even seasonal but any possible developments which may cause delay or danger to the tour. Remember weather is one of the most unpredictable elements of your planning, so you should always be prepared to compensate for it. Your planning will involve gaining an understanding of the weather, through weather maps, historical weather information and local knowledge (which might include talking to local farmers or indigenous people).

·      Access - How will you get to where you want to go? Are you legally allowed to go to certain places? Remember that some areas may be deemed off limits due to sensitivity; they may be sacred sites, be undergoing rehabilitation or contain threatened or threatening local flora and fauna.

·      Local flora and fauna - It probably should go without saying that anyone thinking of conducting an ecotour should have a practical working knowledge of all possible animals and plants that might be encountered while in an area, as well as which are openly, or passively dangerous.  Once these have been identified by the operator, an awareness of their prominence at the destination should be ascertained.  Perhaps some form of caution will be necessary before the tour departs. How should these organisms be dealt with when encountered?  What treatments/first aid, if any, should be applied if problems occur.

·      Laws - The legal situation within a selected destination will determine what activities will be allowable. Most wilderness areas will come under the jurisdiction of a number of authorities and/or government departments. The regulations are put in place for specific reasons, and will need to be followed by the ecotour organisers, who could very well be liable for prosecution if these regulations are not complied with by not only themselves, but also the participants in any ecotours under their control.

Some of the Guidelines for ecotourists

·       Be culturally sensitive and respect local customs.

·       Allow enough time in each place to appreciate it.

·       Be careful not to introduce exotic plants or animals.

·       Stay on the track (trail).

·       Leave an area cleaner than when you found it.

·       Don't exploit an area when food gathering.

·       Don't disturb wildlife or wildlife habitats.

·       Familiarize yourself with local regulations.

·       Don't use soap or detergents in natural water bodies.

·       When travelling, spend money on local enterprises.

·       Consider the implications of buying plant and animal products. Find out if they're rare or endangered, taken from the wild, and if the trade is approved of by local authorities.

·       Don't encourage illegal trade by buying products made from endangered species.


  All this and more...





If you have any questions about the course,

please click here

to contact one of our tutors.






Meet some Of our academics

John Mason

John Mason is one of Australia's most prolific writers. He saw his first work published when at secondary school, where he worked on the school magazine. In 1973 he was writing a weekly column for his local newspaper and by 1975 he was a regular contributor to Australia's national magazine "Your Garden". John was engaged by Victoria's Dept of Youth, Sport and Recreation to write a book on Fun and Fitness Trails in 1978. In 1981 he saw two more books published (one in America, another in Australia), and commenced writing regularly for the Self Sufficiency Magazine, Grass Roots. John is a long term member of the Australian Society of Authors, the Garden Media Guild (UK) and the Horticultural Media Association (Australia). He has written or contributed to over 100 books, many published by international publishers and published more than 2,000 articles across a range of genres (Gardening, Education, Business, Farming, Fitness). In addition, John has contributed to and overseen the development of more than 600 distance education courses which encompass around 20 million words. He has been an avid photographer for 40 years, building a collection of over 100,000 images, which are used to illustrate his work. His marine animal photos are even used by Legoland in England, on their Atlantis ride! Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.

It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method


$1,653.00Payment plans available.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.