ECOCLUB, Issue 94
The Business of Ecotourism, 3rd Edition
By Carol Patterson; Foreword by Delia & Mark Owens,
219 pages, Trafford Publishing, Victoria BC, 2007
Calgary-based ecotourism consultant, and ECOCLUB Member, Carol Paterson, decided
to revise this already useful book, first published in 1997, to expand on management
challenges and chronic staff shortages, with two new sections aimed at people who want
to make a career in Ecotourism, as a result of feedback that the author received. The
Business of Ecotourism provides sensible business advice for any small Ecotourism
practitioner. It includes basic accounting and marketing templates, (the author being an
experienced accountant before entering Ecotourism) particularly relevant in English-
speaking countries and remembers to hint that Ecotourism is much more than a business,
or business as usual.
One of the most under-researched topics is the issue of risk in
Ecotourism ventures, thus the chapter in Managing Business Risk (excerpt below) is
very useful, as lack of adequate insurance cover and safety procedures is a gaping hole in
many small tour operators as continuous accidents around the world show. We hope that
can be expanded in future editions, as should the interesting but short
chapter on industry standards and associations, that omits international networks such as
A number of successful practitioners have publically said that they have read
previous editions of this book.
Obviously a book can not by itself guarantee that an
aspiring ecotourism entrepreneur will succeed, however we recommend that ambitious
ecotourism students for one, before venturing out to do their own thing, purchase this
clever and pleasant to read book so that they open their over-optimistic eyes to the main, potential dangers, not to be scared
away but to be aware. This is a great manual, but it would be made even better with a chapter on the extra costs of being green
and how to manage them. We would also love to see an advanced version also aimed at researchers, investors and journalists
with case studies naming names, possibly localised for specific destinations, and accompanied by a CD with multimedia
examples, interactive exercises and case studies.
That said, there is nothing rarer and more useful than plain talking and
common sense, and this book is full of both. A lot of effort and attention has been invested for an appropriate text size and
layout, with useful paragraph summaries and room for notes. Current, not so successful, ecotourism practitioners may also be
able to (finally) detect
what they are doing wrong ranging from not getting the right people for the job,
to not marketing
their product or forgetting to build partnerships for success, while they would have the added benefit of finding an excuse to
contact the savy author, one of the worlds leading ecotourism consultants, for more input!
ECOCLUB recommends that you buy it directly from the publishers whose print shop runs on green energy, but if you would
(perversely) like to support major corporations, the usual major online outlets also stock it - Antonis B. Petropoulos
IS ECOTOURISM DANGEROUS?
Ecotourism contains elements of nature, adventure, and cultural travel. It takes place in foreign lands and out-of-the-way places
in your own country. Severe weather conditions, unexpected route changes, and encounters with animals bigger than you, are all
potential parts of the experience. This does not mean that ecotourism is dangerous; however, there is an element of risk in eco-
travel. In fact, there is risk in all travel and in most activities we undertake, including the drive to the airport to start our eco-trip.
WHERE DOES RISK ORIGINATE?
People perceive the industry as being riskier than it actually is. This can result in difficulties in obtaining insurance at affordable
rates. The small but real threat of legal action requires a good understanding of where an ecotourism business is exposed to risk
and actively working to minimize your exposure. Your ecotourism organization can face losses in the following areas.
PROPERTY DAMAGE - damage or loss to the physical assets of your business, such as a boat, building, or vehicle from theft,
accident, fire, or vandalism.
BUSINESS INTERRUPTION - loss of earnings arising from a temporary stop in your business activity. If your operation was
temporarily closed by fire, earnings would be interrupted and you might not be able to meet your financial obligations while you
Ecotourism businesses could also suffer losses if operating permits are cancelled or if
severe or unusual weather
DISABILITY - Although many of us can claim good health today, there is a high possibility that we will be disabled at some
point in our working lives. Most often the disability is short-term, a sprained ankle or pneumonia just before a trip, but in other