Ecotourism Training Center (ETC): Empowering Youth Through Ecotourism Leadership Training

Ecotourism Training Center (ETC): Empowering Youth Through Ecotourism Leadership Training

Ecotourism Training Center ETC


The Ecotourism Training Center (ETC) is a long-term tsunami recovery project focused on providing immediate employment and vocational career training to young adults in Thailand. Many of the current students lost everything to the waves including homes, jobs, and in many cases family members and providers. The ETC program trains young people for a career in environmental tourism through courses in English, computer skills, and nature tour leadership.


Reid Ridgway, ETC’s Managing Director, and his Swiss partner Pascal Hernikat have connected the program with a huge list of outside resources – including land-based nature tour companies, scientific and environmental agencies, hospitals and safety experts, retail and merchandising specialists, hospitality experts, media professionals, graphic artists, tour booking agencies, the diving industry, retail and merchandising experts and leadership and management trainers – in order to expose the students to a broad range of related industries and bridge their new skill sets to employment opportunities when they graduate from the 9 month program.


After the tsunami, Reid and his friends started doing emergency relief work in Khao Lak, and calling to family and friends to help. Initially they were working in the camps giving emergency supplies, but after 3 weeks they decided to create a long-term rehabilitation program to employ people and to get them out of the camps. And they came up with ETC: When their livelihoods are closely connected to the environment, people feel connected to the environment, and the stronger the ties they can feel with the environment, the better they understand the need to protect it.


The first class of ETC students was chosen through a number of interviews with many young men and women as well as with the heads of relief camps. Through their training program in specific and related skills in the field of ecotourism, the students have also acquired knowledge of business management and marketing, as well as the natural environment which is their product. In December 2005, near the 1 year anniversary of the tsunami disaster, ETC will release documentary films produced by their students to showcase their amazing undertaking and the spectacular natural environment that they call home.


Currently ETC is almost entirely funded through contributions from concerned individuals who support ETC’s cause. In order to continue its projects and maintain/increase its staff persons, however, ETC needs to secure a larger funding source. If your organization is interested in providing financial support for ETC, please contact ETC at admin[at]


About TIES

As the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association, TIES seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, sustainable travel..




> The International Ecotourism Society 



The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference will highlight global challenges and local opportunities, supporting sustainable development of tourism and promoting solutions that balance conservation, communities and sustainable travel.

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