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Jobs in sustainable tourism

With new hotels sprouting all over Metro Manila these days, it is relatively easy for the present crop of Hospitality Management or Tourism graduates to find a job, compared to their counterparts in previous decades.

However, as of late, the Tourism industry has been abuzz with the various perspectives of sustainable tourism, getting the millennials excited and curious about what this paradigm shift in our industry’s direction will mean to them in terms of employment.

Although they now realize that a job in sustainable tourism, because of the highly specialized training it requires, is not as easy to come by, compared to regular jobs in hotels, restaurants, airlines, etc., the millennials are still curious to find out what it would take for them to be a part of this new trend in the industry.

At a recent Global Youth Forum in Subic, I was asked to share with the audience, made up mostly of millennials, the employment opportunities in sustainable tourism, which they could train for and make a lifetime career of.  

Although not as many, or as varied, as the regular tourism industry jobs, these opportunities are deemed more significant, more meaningful, and more valuable because they ensure the viability of the tourism industry for future generations.  Most of these are also referred to as “Green Jobs” because they promote ecological sustainability and environmental preservation.

The Bambike is a stylized mode of transportation made of bamboo, invented by an Ecopreneur who used indigenous materials instead of imported products.  

Leading the list of “Indoor Jobs” is that of the Ecotourism Project Manager who addresses all ecotourism related technical matters of a project and designs technical program initiatives for resource mobilization of the project.  Anybody who loves to teach can fit in perfectly as Environmental Educator, who makes people aware of environmental issues, promotes conservation and sustainability, enhancing the public’s enjoyment of the environment through teaching and interpreting the natural world.  

Those who want to help preserve a country’s culture could train to be a Heritage Manager and be responsible for the conservation and management of heritage sites, balancing their preservation with income and sustainability from a business perspective, while a Protected Areas Project Officer takes care of land use delineation and law enforcement on protected areas.

The “Outdoor Jobs” in sustainable tourism may be more engaging and interesting for the present crop of graduates but, nevertheless, just as important as the “Indoor Jobs.”   An “ecopreneur” creates and sells environmentally friendly products and services, including organic food, recycling efforts or green construction.  

The more sedate job of a Nature Conservation Officer manages, protects and improves areas of environmental importance through conservation work, publicity and scientific monitoring, while a more interesting job would be that of a Wildlife Manager, who supervises hunting activities in an area, keeping track of the animal population in that area, and ensuring the habitat’s suitability for wildlife population.

In movies and television, we’ve seen a Park Ranger.  He protects and supervises outdoor areas, patrolling the grounds, to be sure that campers, hikers and other visitors follow the rules, especially fire safety regulations, and do not disrupt the natural environment of fellow guests.  A new field of operations is that of an Environmental Engineer, who uses the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to solve environmental problems.

But what has proven to be a most interesting job was that of a Caretaker of a Tropical Island.  In 2009, the Queensland Government in Australia announced their search for a six-month Caretaker for Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef.  Thirty-five thousand applicants from all over the world vied for the position, which paid approximately $90,000.  

The old Manila Metropolitan Theater

After thorough screenings, interviews and other tests, Ben Southall from Hampshire, England emerged victorious.   Although he was provided with a luxury villa on Hamilton Island and had all the perks that come with a wealthy lifestyle, including TV guestings in Oprah, National Geographic and other worldwide top-raters, he found the job extremely exhausting.  Every single day, he had to go diving, kayaking, cycling and sailing throughout the entire length of the 1600-kilometer Great Barrier Reef.

He lost his girlfriend who he no longer had time for, and almost died after having been stung by an extremely poisonous jellyfish.  But he was very good in his job and his employer, the government, was very pleased with him. After his six-month contract ended, Queensland made him Tourism Ambassador, still with a hefty salary, to promote not just the Great Barrier Reef, but also the rainforest and the Gold Coast, Australia’s “Playground of the Rich and Famous.”

Of course, one does not have to take any of the aforementioned jobs if he wants to do his share of promoting Sustainable Tourism.  All he has to do is to remind himself of this mantra, every time he travels to a certain place:

“Leave nothing but footprints

Take nothing but pictures

Kill nothing but time”

For feedback, I’m at [email protected]

Topics: Jobs in sustainable tourism

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