George Washington University (GW) has partnered with Conservation International (CI) to develop and implement an educational curriculum on ecotourism management. The new Ecotourism Learning Program aims to provide a set of tools, knowledge and standards to help communities create ecotourism destinations that successfully attract tourists while protecting the natural environment and improving their welfare.
The program targets government and non-governmental staff working in tourism within the 34 biodiversity hotspots — major tropical wilderness areas, wetlands and key marine areas of the world where ecotourism is increasing or will be implemented.
“Increasingly governments and local communities are looking to tourism as a way to create needed jobs with a softer impact on the environment” said Eileen Gutierrez, ecotourism advisor at CI. “However, capacities are limited and developments often end up failing, causing more harm than good. For this reason, it is important that a professional training program is made available that will provide the tool and approaches for designing and implementing ecotourism that truly benefits local communities and helps protect the environment.”
While I can’t find any specific information about the program at GWU or CI, this seems like a great idea: ecotourism can be a “win-win-win” for the environment, travelers and those who live and do business at or near these destinations.