Ecotourism is all about traveling and visiting unexplored places that protect the environment and also looking after the welfare of the local people residing in that area. Here in this article, we provide a startup guide for beginners to start an ecotourism business.
This is a newly emerging concept in the travel and tourism industry. Ecotourism includes some alternative forms of transportation that have lower carbon emissions, travel to an agriculture destination, etc.
Any individual passionate about travel and having knowledge about ecotourism destinations can initiate this business. As an ecotourism travel planner, you will be providing the advice and arrangements according to your client’s choice and budget.
Why Ecotourism Business? Is it Profitable?
Ecotourism is one of the great choices for nature lovers who also love adventure travel. The ecotourism business industry makes up 6% of the GDP all over the world. This industry is considered a fast-growing industry as the yearly growth rate is 5%.
Ecotourism is also considered as sustainable tourism because it has a lot of potential travel ideas. Apart from a simple vacation or holiday trip, it is also a learning process for the people who are related to wildlife management, historians, archaeologist, environmental science, and wildlife photography.
There are no such specific training is required in starting an ecotourism business. But yes, you will need to be organized, a great communicator, and a good listener who always comes with a resourceful positive reply.
Here is an Ecotourism Business Plan Guide for Beginners
1. Select Your Ecotourism Niche
The main objective of ecotourism is to minimize the negative impact on the land and its communities in the time of traveling.
Popular ecotourism activities include visiting tropical rainforests, studying flora and fauna, hiking in natural parks, taking whale-watching trips, exploring volcanoes, visiting historical places, canyoning, and even visiting the frozen lands of the arctic circle.
2. Understand the Market Demand
An ecotourism business cannot succeed without having extensive market research. It will help you to establish pricing, distribution, and promotional strategies for your ecotourism product or service. Identify the ecotourism market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends, and sales potential.
3. Create a Business Plan
Crafting a business plan is a must in starting an ecotourism business. It will help you in understanding how your business is put together and how you will be monitoring progress, controlling your costs and sales, and raising funds. While you are making an arrangement on behalf of your clients, you must have a proper idea, resourceful contacts, and local support.
Plan about the places that you will be going to arrange trips for your clients. Determine to whom will you market your products. Set out your business objective and long term-short term goals. Analyze competition and define your competitive advantages. Financial and marketing planning is also important.
4. Naming Your Eco-tourism Business
Selecting a proper name for an ecotourism business venture is extremely important. You must choose a catchy and relatable name so that customers and vendors and easily relate to your services.
For example, if you are planning to develop and promote a specified location as an ecotourism spot, ensure to include the name of the spot. Also, check whether a relevant website domain name is available or not.
5. Arrange Finance
A proper financial plan will give you confidence and you will also understand whether any investor’s funding is required or not. You must take into account all of the running costs, should not be overly optimistic, and use reasonable assumptions to back up any figures. This type of business requires a sound working capital support.
6. Procure Licenses & Permits
Special considerations for ecotourism operators include regulatory policies that could influence your operation, such as permits, taxes, zoning, educating visitor code of conduct, service or product evaluation, and protection from risk and liability.
Managing an ecotourism business requires familiarity with ecological and social concepts and challenges. You must understand how to bring people into contact with nature without damaging the very attraction they are coming to see and clearly communicate these practices to your front-line staff.
7. Calculate the Cost of Starting an Ecotourism Business
Other than licenses and permits, you have to invest money for tie-ups with service providers at the specified eco-tourism destinations. As an ecotourism planner, it is extremely important to calculate the exact cost of the trip. It is then only you will be able to price the tour packages correctly.
8. Business Setup
In starting the ecotourism travel planning business, you will need to have an office space. You can start by having a rented property. Your prospective clients are supposed to have an in-person meeting with you.
Consult with an attorney about the necessary permission and legalities. Register your business according to the ownership pattern. Buy appropriate liability insurance. It will protect your clients as well as your business.
Hire efficient manpower who have experience in the travel industry. Generally, you will need to have sales personnel and a trip coordinator.
9. Develop Tie-ups with Vendors
As any travel planning business, resources are one of the most crucial factors in ecotourism also. Having resourceful vendor tie-ups is important in this business. You will need to have proper information about the lodging, local licensed tour guide, means of conveyance, etc.
It is observed many NGOs and local bodies encourage eco-tourism companies. This is because this kind of tie-up is mutually beneficial as more and more people get to know the remote destinations and attract more tourists.
10. Promote Your Ecotourism Business
The main objective of the eco-tourism business is to promote bio-diversities of nature. Subjects like energy conservation, fauna, and flora conservation, and many more must be central in your eco-tourism marketing strategy.
Promote your business online and offline. Publish print advertisements in travel magazines. Join tour operator’s associations to get current trending industry happenings. Create your own website. Find an experienced web designer to ensure a good look and high visibility among search engines like Google. Keep your website updated with photos and relevant content. Source quality photos, but make sure they load quickly.
Promote your website via other relevant travel sites or forums like Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, etc. Having a blog increases your website’s visibility on search engines, as it ensures the website has regular fresh content. Use social media rightfully. Register with online travel market places. These will definitely help you in generating sales leads for your ecotourism business.