Ecotourism - a business filled with travel to exotic locations for untold adventures. Sounds like a dream business doesn't it. But if you are an experienced travel professional who wants to start a business of your own, then this business may be a dream come true.
I do recommend this business for someone with some experience in the travel industry. Your knowledge will make it that much easier to get started. However, anyone with the desire and persistence can succeed in this business. You just have a bit more to learn first.
My husband and I like to travel. We make our annual "pilgrimage" to Las Vegas each year (he likes bright lights!). And we travel with the grandchildren occasionally. But we also enjoy a good adventure. Since we are both nature-lovers, we also want our trips to have minimal impact on the environment. In our travels, we have discovered there are many others just like us. A ready-made market for the Ecotourism professional.
The easiest and least expensive way to get started is as an "outfitter". Outfitters organize small tours for a limited number of people. These can be anything from a trip down an African river, to exploring the Galapagos Islands, to scuba diving in Belize. If you are not quite ready to venture that far, there are plenty of sites to visit closer to home. Take your group whale watching in Oregon or visit Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. Since your clients will pay for the trip in advance, getting started does not require a great deal of up front capital. The most difficult part of starting this business is getting people to take you seriously. That's why already having some industry experience is so helpful - you may already have the contacts necessary to make planning expeditions easier.
Start your business the same way you start any business. Write your business plan.
Get liability insurance. In a business such as Ecotourism, you are assuming quite a bit of responsibility for your clients. Liability insurance is a must.
Choose the areas where you wish to provide tours. Gain as much knowledge as you can about a specific region, including available lodging, local licensed guides, and all local tourism rules and regulations. This is especially true if offering international tours. And rather than simply relying on the beauty of your chosen setting's natural surroundings, it's important to also teach the benefits of ecotourism, including energy and water conservation, recycling, and engaging in activities that don't upset the natural setting or interfere with the local culture.
Market your business. Place ads in travel magazines. If you have contacts with travel agencies, ask them to market your tours. Give presentations on environmental and cultural issues and the benefits of environmentally-friendly travel.
While it is possible to get into the Ecotourism business on a small scale with very little capital, the sky is the limit for potential earnings.