New partnership to promote nature-based tourism education
A new partnership between Royal Roads University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management and the Wilderness Tourism Association of British Columbia (WTA) will help strengthen and promote British Columbia’s nature and wilderness-based tourism industry through collaborative projects and initiatives.
Wilderness tourism, or nature-based, backcountry, adventure or eco-tourism, represents approximately $1.5 Billion dollars directly injected into B.C.’s economy each year, translating to almost 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in the province.
“It’s important for Royal Roads to work with organizations like WTA to make sure our programs are aligned with the demands of the industry,” says Royal Roads President and Vice-chancellor Allan Cahoon. “Through these valuable partnerships, we’re able to design learning experiences relevant to the sector that benefit and have a positive impact on organizations, their employees and their communities.”
In collaboration with industry experts, the Royal Roads tourism and hospitality management programs are designed to provide students with the skills to address workplace challenges across these global industries.
“We are looking forward to working with WTA on research and internship opportunities,” says Royal Roads Tourism Management graduate programs Associate Professor and Program Head Geoffrey Bird. “WTA is an important voice for B.C.’s tourism industry and we’re happy to partner with them to support efforts to evolve sustainable and thriving organizations in this important and growing sector of our economy."
WTA exists to ensure a sustainable future for B.C.’s wilderness tourism industry through leadership, advocacy, and stewardship, says Wilderness Tourism Association of B.C. President Jim DeHart.
“This partnership is a great opportunity for industry to tie in with Royal Roads to further strengthen the sector through research and education,” says DeHart. He adds that WTA stakeholders span all aspects of wilderness or nature-based tourism covering all regions of the province.
DeHart says WTA members will also benefit from the Royal Roads education and applied research opportunities available to them through the partnership.
Owner and operator of Great Bear Nature Tours, Marg Leehane took advantage of the blended learning at Royal Roads to pursue her Master of Arts in Tourism Management degree. Her research focussed on the resilience of the bear viewing industry in B.C., and provided insight into some of the challenges and opportunities of this important aspect of wilderness tourism.
“The Royal Roads learning model gave me an excellent opportunity to pursue research while still working full-time in the wilderness tourism sector,” says Leehane. “By supporting the professional development of tourism operators, Royal Roads is helping to foster a vibrant tourism industry in B.C. for the future.”
Other initiatives in the agreement will include coordinating internship and professional development opportunities, facilitating special projects and administrative capacity support, and developing research funding and scholarship support.
Royal Roads will also host the WTA annual general meeting on campus in late November of 2015 with a live stream option available for province-wide stakeholders. Visit the Wilderness Tourism Association of British Columbia website for more information.