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Press Relases Jan. 19, 2006

Conservation International and George Washington University Create Ecotourism Training Program

WASHINGTON, DC—Conservation International (CI) and The George Washington University (GW) have entered into an agreement to develop and implement the Ecotourism Learning Program. The program will provide a set of tools, knowledge and standards to help communities create ecotourism destinations that successfully attract tourists while protecting the natural environment and improving their welfare.

The program targets government and non-governmental staff working in tourism within the 34 biodiversity hotspots, major tropical wilderness areas, wetlands and key marine areas of the world where ecotourism is increasing or will be implemented.

“Increasingly governments and local communities are looking to tourism as a way to create needed jobs with a softer impact on the environment” said Eileen Gutierrez, ecotourism advisor at CI. “However, capacities are limited and developments often end up failing, causing more harm than good. For this reason, it is important that a professional training program is made available that will provide the tool and approaches for designing and implementing ecotourism that truly benefits local communities and helps protect the environment.”

Since 1972, GW has been a pioneer in tourism management, education, research and technical assistance. The new program will build upon already existing ecotourism training and workshops developed at GW, and will add enhancements that include a greater emphasis on conservation. Core training course topics to be covered are: sustainable tourism, parks and protected areas, ecotourism assessment, tourism product development, tourism marketing, ecotourism project design and management, and fundraising. In addition, the program will focus its efforts on helping local educational institutions and organizations build their capacity to teach others within the tourism arena. This will allow local institutions to offer ecotourism training on an on-going basis and at an affordable level.

“Our partnership with CI will help to build capacity, knowledge and create a professional program for those wanting to implement ecotourism programs,” said Kristin Lamoureux, director, International Institute of Tourism Studies at GW.

The program’s first course will be available in early 2006. For more information on the CI and GW partnership, visit

The biodiversity hotspots are 34 regions worldwide where 75 percent of the planet’s most threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians survive within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earth’s surface (roughly equivalent to the combined areas of the five largest U.S. states). This habitat originally covered 15.7 percent of the Earth’s surface, an area equivalent in size to Russia and Australia combined. New hotspot analysis shows that an estimated 50 percent of all vascular plants and 42 percent of terrestrial vertebrates exist only in these 34 hotspots.

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Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth’s richest regions of plant and animal diversity and demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives without harming their natural environments. For more information about CI, visit

International Institute of Tourism Studies at the George Washington University continues to play a leadership role through its global tourism research and academic programs. Today, the business school's Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management and International Institute of Tourism Studies offers academic opportunities in tourism administration, event management, sport management, and sustainable destination management for undergraduate, master's, and professional students.

GW’s School of Business prepares students for professional management careers. The depth and variety of its academic and professional programs, including five specialized master’s programs, provide rich opportunities for students in the school’s core Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Business Administration and doctoral programs. GW’s undergraduate- and graduate-level international business programs rank among the world’s best. For more information about GW'’ School of Business, visit

Julian Teixeria


Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB) provides a new forum for collaboration between the private sector and the environmental community. Created in partnership with Conservation International (CI) and the Ford Motor Company, CELB operates as a division of CI and is governed by a distinct executive board of leaders from the business and environmental communities-engaging the private sector worldwide in creating solutions to critical global environmental problems in which industry plays a defining role. For further information about CELB, please visit


Katrin Olson
[email protected]

 Photo credits for banner image: (Zebras in Botswana) © CI, Chris Brooks