Starting Your Ecotourism Business

Following the completion of your environmental engineering degree, a company in Coconino County specializing in wind energy recruited you to work for their firm. You’ve been with the company for the past four years. Part of your goals for joining the company was to get exposed to the different technology, businesses, and experts that help protect the environment. You’ve helped lead the development and maintenance of several projects across the states and in neighboring countries. You feel that you’ve accomplished enough in the renewable energy industry.

You’d like to tackle a new challenge, perhaps something that you could establish. You want to travel, and your work has taken you to many places in America and also abroad. You’ve been eying the concept of ecotourism as a field of interest and have wondered what it would take to start your ecotourism business.

Here are a few things you should know about ecotourism:

An Overview of Ecotourism

Europeans take something like a three-week-long vacation, usually in August, when it’s summer. They flock to southern Europe for the warm beaches of Spain, Italy, or Portugal. Alternatively, they hie off to some exotic location in Asia or Africa. This is not to single out the Europeans and their vacation patterns. It is to understand the impact that pattern has on the environment. Europeans took 1.2 billion trips in 2019. China is rising as the leading player in tourist travels. Chinese tourists accounted for some 140 million trips in 2018, which is a 13.5% rise compared to the previous year. With nearly 1.39 billion in population, what would be the projection like for the next five or ten years?

Imagine these numbers and then imagine all the plastic bottles and trash left on beaches, parks, and other main tourist attractions. Imagine the negative impact on the environment.

It’s about Environmental Sustainability and Also Fun

Ecotourism is about environmental sustainability. It’s about understanding every country’s natural environment and when and how to leave it be. Here are more things you should note when planning to start an ecotourism business:

  1. It should be a partnership. Sustainable tourism should prioritize creating a partnership with local communities while highlighting a location’s natural attractions. This means allowing locals to participate in educating tourists about what the community has to offer. It’s about making tourists understand how to appreciate natural attractions.
  2. Addressing your market.  Since the concept began sometime in the 1990s, ecotourism has gained some traction from travelers worldwide and has been a contributing factor in the global tourism industry. But businesses operating the traditional practice of tourism are well-entrenched. Your marketing campaign should focus on groups and individuals who share your passion for the environment. The hope is that through them, you can create a ripple effect that would encourage travelers to abandon traditional tourism and shift to a more sustainable one.
  3. Don’t take away the fun. Your ecotourism business, for all its rightful and noble intentions, should still offer fun and excitement for your travelers. Let locals take part in orienting travelers about hiking in a forest. Zipline attractions managed and operated by local businesses not only provide excitement to tourist, but it also creates employment opportunities for locals.
  4. Develop your network. Any effort to save and protect the environment should be a multi-stakeholder endeavor. Work with local NGOs with expertise in influencing community action. Coordinate with local authorities for a broader campaign reach. Building this network creates a more sustainable business model.

Your business plan will have to layout the financials to support your business. That is one of the integral components of this project. There are other considerations, like your legal status. But these main points set you in the right direction.



David Curry

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