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To be successful in this field, you will need good communication skills, the ability to work independently and creatively, and a sense of adventure. Although you do not need to go to school to prepare, you should be willing to do lots of your own research, both through reading and by visiting the places where you someday wish to lead tours. Once you are well informed and are knowledgeable in your chosen area of expertise, you can begin guiding ecotours for an established and reputable ecotour operator or even start your own company.

Tourism is the world's largest industry, and according to the UN's World Tourism Organization, in 2004 ecotourism and nature tourism grew three times faster than the tourism industry as a whole. For an increasing number of countries, tourism based on natural attractions is the leading source of national revenue. As a result, ecotourism is promoted more every year, and its economic importance has grown in equal measure. Because people are now realizing that there is money to be made in this field, ecotourism has given governments and local residents powerful incentives to conserve natural and cultural resources. Often, a happy by-product of ecotourism is the development and enrichment of communities that have traditionally been impoverished. For all these reasons, many individuals, organizations, and governments are getting behind ecotourism. As a result, there are many new opportunities for an adventurous person to launch a career in ecotourism, allowing her or him a chance to make a good living, see the world, and work toward a good cause—ecological conservation and community development.

As an ecotravel guide or tour operator, there are several principles and practices you would be expected to adopt. You must develop an understanding of and respect for the complex interactions of plants, animals, and humans. As a guide, you must be knowledgeable and entertaining, and be able to transform hard science and ancient history into accessible, interesting talks. You should try to involve local people as much as possible in your tours and encourage your travelers to support local businesses. As well, you should fill as many job positions as possible with local employees who ordinarily have very limited economic opportunities. In this way, local residents will clearly see the value of preserving their environment and the travelers you lead will learn about the customs, traditions, and languages of their hosts. Above all, you should avoid or minimize any environmental harm to fragile ecosystems and encourage your travelers to join organizations that support preservation and protect the rights of indigenous peoples around the world.

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