Qualification - Proficiency Award In Ecotourism

Course CodeBTR001
Fee CodePA
Duration (approx)500 hours
QualificationProficiency Award

External Studies in Ecotourism for Professional Development

Course Structure

Three Ecotourism Modules (Ecotour Management, Bushcraft and Wilderness Skills, Ecotour Tour Guide). -outlines of these three can be seen below

Workplace Project

There are various options for satisfying this.

  • Many students will satisfy this option by undertaking work (voluntary or paid) in ecotourism (eg. at a wildlife park) after having completed the three ecotourism modules.
  • Some students may undertake Research Project I & II ( structured correspondence courses culminating in production of mini research projects)
  • Some may provide evidence of attendance at conferences, other practical courses, or significant work in industry.

To satisfy this requirement, a member of ACS academic staff must assess and approve whatever you do as being a "real world" learning experience that helps you relate what you have studied in the ecotourism modules to the ecotour industry.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Proficiency Award In Ecotourism.
 Ecotour Management BTR101
 Bushcraft and Wilderness Activities BTR201
 Ecotourism Tour Guide Course BTR301
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 5 modules.
 Industry Project BIP000
 Research Project I BGN102
 Research Project I BGN102
 Workshop I BGN103
 Workshop II BGN203

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


This is the final requirement that you must satisfy before receiving your award.

There are different options available to you to satisfy this requirement:


Option 1.

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 (ie. workplace project) requirement; on the basis of RPL (ie. 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.

Oprion 2.

Undertake modules "Workshop I and Workshop II"

Workshop I

There are 3 lessons, each involving a PBL project, as follows:

1. Workplace Tools, Equipment and Materials: Identifying and describing the operation of tools and equipment used in the workplace; routine maintenance of tools and equipment; identifying and comparing materials used in the workplace; using different materials to perform workplace tasks.

2. Workplace Skills: Determining key practical skills in the workplace; identifying and comparing commonly-performed workplace tasks; determining acceptable standards for workplace tasks; implementing techniques for improving workplace efficiency.

3. Workplace Safety: Identifying health and safety risks in the workplace; complying with industry WH&S standards; developing safety guidelines for handling dangerous items. for more details click here

Workshop 2

There are three PBL projects in this module

1. Identifying Technical Problems and Collecting Samples or Data: Investigating technical problems in the workplace; collecting and treating samples, data or other evidence.

2. Analytical Procedures: Using specialised technical equipment to analyse samples, data or other evidence; undertaking routine and advanced scientific or technical analyses.

3. Workplace Operations: Describing the operations and equipment of a laboratory or other technical environment. for more details click here


Option 3.

If you do not work in the relevant industry, you need to undertake a project as follows.

Procedure for a Workplace Project

This project is a major part of the course involving the number of hours relevant to the course (see above). Although the course does not contain mandatory work requirements, work experience is seen as highly desirable.

This project is based on applications in the work place and specifically aims to provide the student with the opportunity to apply and integrate skills and knowledge developed through various areas of formal study.

Students will design this project in consultation with a tutor to involve industry based activities in the area of specialized study which they select to follow in the course. The project outcomes may take the form of a written report, folio, visuals or a mixture of forms. Participants with relevant, current or past work experience will be given exemption from this project if they can provide suitable references from employers that show they have already fulfilled the requirements of this project.

For courses that involve more than 100 hours, more than one workplace project topic may be selected. For example, 200 hours may be split into two projects each of 100 hours. This will offer the student better scope to fulfill the needs of their course and to meet the number of hours required. Alternatively, the student may wish to do one large project with a duration of 200 hours.

Students will be assessed on how well they achieve the goals and outcomes they originally set as part of their negotiations with their tutor. During each 100 hours of the project, the students will present three short progress reports. These progress reports will be taken into account when evaluating the final submission. The tutor must be satisfied that the work submitted is original.

If the student wishes to do one large 200 hour report, then only three progressive reports will be needed (however the length of each report will be longer).

What is Ecotourism?

The definition of ecotourism provides a framework from which to explore the criteria of what makes ecotourism;

1.      Nature

Nearly all definitions of ecotourism include the focus on the natural environment.  This focus is flexible and allows the focus to range from say a biome such as a rain forest and all that it includes to a narrow product focus on a single species.  Thus the focus may be holistic or elemental, although it is best to consider a single species in the context of its broader environment to provide a better educational outcome.

Many ecotourism ventures focus on certain elements in nature; these elements are commonly referred to as ‘charismatic megafauna/megaflora/megaliths’.  Megafauna include any animal species that provide a target such as whales, lions, birds and even insects.  Megaflora includes plant species such as rafflesia in Indonesia, while Megaliths are natural formations such Mt Everest and other geographic features of interest. 

Additionally it is also unwise to separate one element from any cultural background or context due to the paucity of environments that are untouched by humans.  Thus an element is not only placed in the broader environmental context but also in the human/cultural context providing the visitor with the most realistic and in-depth experience.


2.      Education/Interpretation

Later definitions include an emphasis on education as an essential part of ecotourism. This aspect is broad enough to encompass a spectrum of learning ranging from highly organised formal education to self guided tours or even entertainment. 

There is argument that ecotourism should be teaching ‘preferred behaviour’ as a way of instigating preferred outcomes for the target product, however this is not considered necessary for the product to be considered educational.  Effective interpretation is essential educational means for not just providing facts and figures, but to reveal the complex relationships found in nature as well as encouraging appropriate behaviour to minimise impacts and to improve outcomes for the element in focus.

Interpretations can be either off-site or on-site.  Off site interpretation includes guidebooks, information and images on website, brochures or even word of mouth.  This is important as it influences the visitor’s decision to visit the attraction but also establishes future behaviours, expectations and images in the visitor which can have a dramatic effect upon their actual experience.   On site interpretation includes visitor facilities, self guided and guided tours.

3. Cultural Impacts


The inclusion of the cultural welfare of the local/indigenous populations as a key component in ecotourism was introduced to reduce exploitive practices by foreign owned companies that essentially were not investing back into the local economy or environment and used locals in the lowest entry level employment. 

It makes sense to involve the local community, garner their support and interest by making it benefit them as this is most likely to lead to the protection of the natural attractions.   In some cases lack of consideration of the cultural impacts has lead to mass displacement of indigenous populations and destruction of natural resources.  The most famous example of this is the displacement of approximately 70% of the Masai people for the creation of game parks in a pattern that was repeated across eastern Africa. 

Another major aim of ecotourism is to put money back into the local community. Operators are therefore encouraged to spend money associated with the running of the tour in the local community in which they are operating. This can be money associated with the actual running of the business, the tour, and personal expenditure, and includes goods and services.

The local economy is stimulated by this spending and economic growth is a flow-on effect, creating employment and economic security for the local rural populations. Income is also generated through the fees associated with permits and licences; this ensures that more money is spent on public land management and conservation. Job opportunities in this field therefore also increase with a greater demand for park rangers, kiosk operators, park assistants and so on.

Another positive result of putting money back into the community is community support. For example, rural communities, often with a sometimes high proportion of unemployment and low incomes, are much more inclined to support ecotourism in their area if they too can benefit from it.

4. Sustainability

Sustainable Development was defined in 1980’s as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.  While this principle is enthusiastically embraced, actually defining how this is to be met is another matter.

One aspect of sustainability calls for either the maintenance of the status quo in environments that are adequately ‘intact’ or enhancement the natural environment when degraded in some aspect. 

This can actually dovetail nicely with tourism in providing visitors with an opportunity to give back to the environment by participation in restoration activities or by providing donations to such work.  This approach promotes the notion of the environment as everyone’s responsibility not some undefined ‘other’.

Ecotourism ventures need to be assessed to determine whether they are actually ‘sustainable’, but the lack of consensus as to what constitutes sustainable creates further issues.  In fact is nearly impossible to actually say that a particular business is ‘environmentally sustainable’, rather it is considered better to place the expectation that operations will work with what is considered environmental best practice.

5. Financial Aspects

If the venture is operating as ‘for profit’ it must consider financial viability seriously.  Realism dictates that there will be a balance between running a business, customer satisfaction and meeting the requirements of ecotourism.






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