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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Learn more about the new and exciting field of ecotourism. 

This course develops your ability to organise and conduct ecotourism services including tours and activities. This could range from guided tours, overnight walks and treks, or self guided interpretive walks.
  • Study ecotourism basics, ecology and conservation, geology, ecotour displays, planning ecotour displays and more.

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Work in the field of ecotourism. Ecotourism is a new and exciting field of tourism. 
Ecotourism is the combination of Ecology and Tourism. Ecotourism is an industry that has developed hugely in recent years. It reflects both of the aims of modern conservation: husbandry of resources and protection of the environment. Modern ecotourism strives to be sustainable, so that the activities that are taking place can continue to do so. This course will introduce you to some of the aspects of ecotourism guiding including environmental awareness, planning tours,displays and interpretive aids, plant and animal interpretation.

There are 10 lessons as follows:

  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

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


On successful completion of the course you should be able to do the following:

  • An ability to analyse the structure of interpretive ecotourism in your country.
  • To recognise factors of the environment and their significance to ecotourism.
  • To 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.
  • Develop innovative concepts in interpretation for a selected ecotourism activity in a land environment.
  • Determine the specific name of a range of natural features in a selected wilderness area including, where appropriate:
    • Fossils
    • Rocks
    • Land formations
    • Soil types
    • Geothermal features


Here are just some of the things you may be doing:

  • With each assignment you will be required to prepare identification sheets, containing a preserved specimen, a photograph or a drawing; together with a description of the species/type of organism.
    This collection is designed to be the embryo of a resource which you may use as an ongoing aid when designing and conducting interpretive activities.
  • You will research the legal and administrative background required to set up an ecotourism venture in your area. You will also look at the marketing and advertising possibilities for this venture.
  • Visit a number of interpretive ecotourism facilities.
  • Prepare an interpretive activities sheet for an ecotourism group.
  • Visit a natural area and classify organisms sighted in a set time period.
  • Identify points of interest in a natural area for an ecotourism group.
  • Research the lifecycles of a number of plants and animals.
  • Design a range of ecotours for ecotourists interested in various natural phenomena.
  • Visit an aquatic environment and make observations on the organisms there and any pollution present.
  • Identify potential ecotourism activities for a marine area.
  • Develop interpretive techniques for minimal environmental impact.
  • Attend an ecotour to assess the quantity and quality of information provided.
  • Plan an ecotour including the destination, accommodation, transport, catering.
  • Construct an ecotour display.
  • Plan and lead an ecotour to a group of ecotourists or acquaintances
Scope of Tour Guide Work
In the field of ecotourism; tour guides may lead many different types of tours, including: 
  • Short tours (maybe only an hour or two) or long tours (many days or weeks)
  • Tours that involve seeing natural attractions (eg. A tour through a cave system; to view wildlife, to explore a rainforest, desert or seashore)
  • Tours that involve some special participation by the participant (eg. rowing a canoe, snorkeling, abseiling, climbing steep inclines).
  • Tours on foot, on bikes, in motor vehicles, in boats, in helicopters)
A tour guide needs to know something about the environment and ecology of the area in which the tour is conducted -that is what makes it an ecotour. More than this though; they need to have the skills, knowledge and equipment that is relevant to the particular tour they are leading.
Walking Tours
Walking tours are a popular branch of special interest tourism. More than any other type of tour, a walking tour allows tourists to immerse themselves in the countryside, away from traffic and other distracting intrusions. Walking in fresh air gives a sense of invigoration, freedom, and well-being – even short walks can be extremely rewarding. Walks may be formally organised by specialist walking tour operators, by walking clubs, or informally by groups of friends and family.
The range of walking tours includes:
  • Short or half-day walks: these are often around historic town centres and in national parks or reserves. The walk may take between one and four hours duration.
  • Day walks: walking up to five or six hours, not including lunch and rest breaks.
  • Overnight walks: usually walking five or six hours to a new destination each night.
  • Treks: long walks that take several days to weeks. ‘Adventure’ treks are the most challenging with the most difficult trails being found in mountainous regions such as in the Himalayan Mountains, the Andes, and in Patagonia.
  • Theme walks: these are an increasingly popular niche in the special interest tourism market. Examples include: ‘cultural’ walking tours where walkers visit a number of historic towns and cultural sites, and ‘gourmet’ walking tours that have an emphasis on sampling regional foods.
Most walks and treks are graded according to their level of difficulty. The majority of short walks and theme walks are ‘easy’, suited to most people with a moderate level of fitness. For most day walks, participants require a moderate level of fitness. Walkers are usually required to carry a lightweight pack filled with a jumper/sweater, raincoat, camera, drinks, and snacks. Lunch may be carried in the walker’s pack or prepared along the way by the tour operator. On some tours, walkers may stop for lunch at inns or cafes along the way. Overnight walks and longer treks require a higher level of fitness and stamina. Packs are considerably heavier – on organised tours, the operator may transport the packs by car, bus, or pony to the next night’s destination. Depending on the tour, accommodation might be in tents, cabins, hotels, inns, or B&B accomodations.
Some walking tours are highly structured with a set itinerary and an accompanying tour guide leading a small group of walkers to each destination. Other tours are self-guided, with participants walking at their own pace and following maps to reach their pre-booked destination.
Cycling Tours
Cycling tours offer similar rewards to those experienced by walkers – fresh air, exercise, and a sense of freedom.
Cycling has another benefit – it’s faster so participants are able to travel much longer distances, which can be important when time is limited. Cycling, like other forms of adventure tourism, ranges from ‘soft’ to ‘hard’. Soft cycling appeals to both occasional cyclists and enthusiasts.
There is no element of risk-taking since cycling is done on bike tracks and quiet roads, with relatively few challenging uphill stretches. A backup vehicle and a luggage courier service often support organised tours. If the cyclist tires, it is possible to take a break from cycling and travel in the backup vehicle. Often the tour incorporates other tourism experiences such as visiting wineries and national parks.
Hard adventure cycling takes place on mountain bikes, following roads and off-road tracks. Tours are physically and mentally challenging with routes going up steep mountains, often on rough tracks. Some tours incorporate other hard adventure tourism experiences such as ‘heli-mountain biking’ (a helicopter ascent to the top of a mountain followed by a mountain bike descent), rafting and bungy jumping.
What do our students think about our courses?
" I have never found the staff at any other learning institution as supportive as the staff at ACS. This gives one a lot of peace of mind and confidence to go on - at every squeak from my side, you guys have always been there, immediately to sort me out. The feedback on my lessons has always been really good and meaningful and an important source of my learning. Thanks!..."

- Student with ACS





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Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.

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