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Economic & Community
Development Division

Ecotourism

Ecotourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry in the United States, generating more than 190,000 jobs in North Carolina alone.

Central Carolina Community College prepares workers for this industry through its Ecotourism program, the first of its kind in North Carolina. It prepares an individual for employment opportunities as an ecological tour guide/interpreter, and/or eco-tourism entrepreneur.

The program is offered at the college's Chatham County Campus, in Pittsboro, N.C., to take advantage of the county's many ecotourism assets. Chatham County possesses a multitude of nature-based assets, such as Jordan Lake and White Pines Preserve, as well as canoeing, birding, hiking, and cycling trails. Other tourism opportunities abound in the agricultural and cultural sectors.

The Ecotourism program consists of six courses, a total of 170 hours of instruction. Three classes are offered during the summer, fall, and spring. Course topics can include, but are not limited to: exploring target markets; exploring a variety of businesses and how they function; environmental and safety regulations, including principles and ethics; field trips and case studies for practical experience; types of interpreters, their roles and responsibilities; ecotourism definitions, practices and principles; and basic safety involving outdoor experiences.

Upon completion of the program, the successful student will be able to identify careers in ecotourism, understand ecotourism terminology, and be knowledgeable about the ecotourism and adventure tourism fields.