Tour Guide Skills for Ecotourism

Course CodeBTR301
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


Eco tourism is a growing area of the wider tourism sector, with many tourists requiring organised activities as part of their trips. There are many different opportunities to explore within this sector including:

  • Guided tours
  • Interpretive walks
  • Treks

Working in this sector, whether as a volunteer or paid employee, will involve:

  • Patience and perseverance
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Environmental awareness
  • Planning skills
  • Organisation

This course will help you to develop the knowledge and understanding required to fulfill the role of an ecotour guide. So if you're looking for to learn more about planning and managing an ecotour business, then this is the course for you!

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Ecotourism Basics
    • Definition of ecotourism
    • Negative ecotourism
    • Ecotourist profile
    • Administrative concerns
    • Safety
  2. Interpretive Services in Ecotourism
    • Interpretation as a key element of ecotourism
    • Interpretation techniques
    • Sign design
  3. Ecology and Conservation
    • Definition of ecology
    • Ecosystem function
    • The web of life
    • Habitat and niche
    • Humans in the environment
  4. Plant and Animal Classification and Identification
    • Classification of organisms
    • Basic taxonomy
    • Using keys for identification
    • Other methods of identification
  5. Geology/Geomorphology
    • Types of rocks
    • Types of minerals
    • Soils
    • Soil formation
    • Soil classification
  6. Interpreting Aquatic Environments
    • Marine environments
    • Freshwater environments
    • Fish
    • Shells
    • Crustaceans
  7. Interpreting Land Environments
    • Introduction to interpreting land environments
    • Relevance of interpreting land environments
  8. Planning an Ecotour
    • Destination
    • Transportation
    • Accommodation
  9. Ecotour Displays
    • Design concepts
    • Zoo design techniques
  10. Leading an Ecotour
    • Advertising
    • Group preparation
    • Planning the tour
    • Group surveys for feedback


  • Analyse the structure of interpretive ecotourism in your country.
  • Recognise factors of the environment and their significance to ecotourism.
  • Plan an ecotour.
  • Create/develop interpretation aids for a selected ecotourism activity.
  • Develop a display with an ecotourism theme.
  • Determine the specific name of a range of natural features in a selected wilderness area including:
    • Birds
    • Fish
    • Shells
    • Other animals
    • Plants
  • Lead an interpretive tour with an ecotourism theme.
  • Develop innovative concepts in interpretation for a selected aquatic ecotourism activity.
  • Identify geological and geomorphological factors of interest to ecotourists.

Tips for Tour Guides in Nature Based Tourism

Guidelines for wilderness safety

Do the following:

  • Always leave complete details of where you are going with someone (e.g. the tour office, close relatives, friends or police).
  • Leave details of estimated times of departure and return.
  • Leave details of any special medical condition of participants (e.g. asthma or diabetes).
  • Be sure to notify them when you return!
  • Take any equipment needed for navigation (whether land or sea) such as maps, compass, etc.
  • Take appropriate clothing (including footwear).
  • Take a first aid kit.
  • Take appropriate emergency provisions (e.g. some food, matches, etc)

Do NOT do the following:

  • Do not overestimate your abilities. Do no more than the least capable member of a group can handle comfortably.
  • Do not move any faster than the slowest member of the group.
  • Don't divide a group - there is safety in numbers.
  • Don't leave an injured person alone in the wilderness
  • When lost, stop moving. Make a campsite in a visible/detectable area.
  • If you are overdue to return, phone or radio ahead and let them know, if possible.

Remember that safety depends on the fitness level of the ecotour guide and skills of participants. Maintain a manageable ratio of experience to inexperience.  For example, when bush walking in wilderness areas, it is advisable that there is least one experienced bush walker for every three inexperienced bush walkers.

Consider some of the hazards below:

Water activities

Water can be exceptionally cold and death from cold water may be swift. If you fall in the water without protection such as a neoprene wetsuit, you have about 3 minutes in which you are able to actively help yourself before you start to be disabled by hypothermia. The water is often so silty you cannot see underwater only a few inches below the surface. Other river hazards include weather, water levels, misjudged terrain, collision, entrapment, hypothermia, drowning, and falling overboard.

Wild animals

In most parts of the world you will be exploring the habitat of wild animals ranging from poisonous snakes in Australia to the Grizzly (Brown) and black bears that are common along Alaskan rivers as they feed on salmon. You may also come across dangerous marine creatures such as jellyfish (the deadly box jellyfish in some tropical waters) and stone-fish.

Insects, scorpions, spiders, and ticks are members of a group of animals known as arthropods. Several species can sting or bite, transmit disease causing organisms, cause serious allergic reactions and are considered harmful to humans. Although the most common form of wildlife encountered will probably be harmless insects it is still prudent to be well informed and plan for unexpected encounters. Mosquitoes are not only annoying when they bite, they can also transmit the disease organisms that cause malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and encephalitis.

Exposure to weather and natural forces

In some areas of the world even in summer, exposure and hypothermia are very real hazards. More people die in the bush through lack of preparation and inadequate equipment then for any other reason. Understanding the effects of the elements on the human body as well as the need for the best quality equipment (suited to the environment in which you are travel ling) is therefore a crucial component of wilderness travel. Having the ability to find water, food and provide shelter in emergency situations can be the difference between perishing in the bush and survival. An advanced first aid certificate is a must. Wind and rain can be common, and air is colder on the water. Strong winds, landslides, glacial outburst floods, calving glaciers, and quicksand or even bushfires are some of the hazards that may be encountered.


There are lots of reasons why you should complete this course with us, here are a few:

  • Becoming an ecotour guide requires specific knowledge, most of which needs to be known before applying for jobs, it is all in this course for you
  • Developing a broader knowledge of the ecotour guide role can help you to identify specific areas of interest that you can go on to develop further
  • Confidence is an important trait within the role of a guide, this is helped by having the most knowledge that you can get, which is what this course is providing
  • As part of the course you will be asked to complete activities which develop what you've learnt, and applies it to different scenarios specific to your own interest, developing your understanding even further
  • You will be supported throughout the course by subject specialist tutors, they will be happy to answer questions and share their industry experience
  • The course is designed to be studied flexibly meaning that you can gain your qualification whilst maintaining other commitments


You can enrol on the course now, but if you have any questions about the content of the course or studying with ACS, then please get in touch with us today - use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE to get in touch with our expert tutors. They will be pleased to help you!

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