Rewilding Europe’s Rewilding Training Tourism programme is working to professionalise and scale up nature-based tourism across Europe. Having completed stage one, the programme’s first participants are now looking forward to field training in the Central Apennines of Italy.
As rewilding gathers momentum across Europe, so opportunities for nature-based tourism are developing too. From bison and beavers to vultures and bears, recovering wildlife populations are drawing increasing numbers of nature lovers from around the world. In this way, restoring nature can create jobs and income for rural communities and lead to prosperous local economies.
Having kicked off in 2020, Rewilding Europe’s pioneering, three-stage Rewilding Training Tourism programme aims to professionalise and scale up nature-based tourism across Europe. The programme’s first, webinar-based stage, which took place in October and November, has already received a wide range of positive feedback. Those selected for the second stage, which is due to take place in the Central Apennines rewilding area in Italy in March and April, are now looking forward to stepping up their training.
Useful and inspiring
The Rewilding Training Tourism Programme is designed to equip those entrepreneurs involved in guiding, hospitality and tourism with a wide range of skills and knowledge. In addition to enhancing the services they provide, the training will also enable them to act as ambassadors for rewilding. Those who participated in the first stage included a number of Rewilding Europe enterprise and field officers, as well as guides, small tour operators and hotel owners.
“I can only imagine what a powerful impact this united group of professionals can achieve together,” says Georg Messerer, a nature guide based in Germany and the Southern Carpathians of Romania who is set to take part in second stage training in the spring. “The first stage really inspired me and I am looking forward to meeting as many of the training programme participants in real life as possible.”
“I greatly enjoyed the webinars and found the topics and the way they were presented very engaging,” says nature guide and photographer James Shooter, who is also Head of Rewilding Escapes at European Rewilding Network member SCOTLAND: The Big Picture. “The content was really interesting and gave us food for thought on different aspects of nature-based tourism along the way. I’m sure the second stage of the training will be just as useful.”
Experts on location
The second stage of the programme, which involves five days of field training, has been sponsored by Rewilding Europe and has been offered to selected participants for free (all stage two participants must have passed the first stage). It will be led by highly experienced nature-based tourism expert Simon Collier of Nature Tourism Development, backed up by members of the Rewilding Apennines team and local partner Wildlife Adventures, which has received loans from Rewilding Europe Capital and assistance from Rewilding Europe’s enterprise team.
“With its dramatic landscapes and amazing wildlife, the Central Apennines are the perfect place to conduct nature-based tourism field training,” says European Safari Company Operations Manager Aukje van Gerven, who helped to develop the training programme. “The Rewilding Apennines team were eager to share their knowledge and experience, while Wildlife Adventures is a well-established nature tourism business that already understands and fully supports rewilding.”
Practice makes perfect
Participants in the second stage training will benefit from a varied programme. Areas covered will include first-hand rewilding examples and engagements, international guide and hospitality training, delivering unique and memorable guest experiences, and field experiences, which will include wildlife watching and animal tracking. Those who pass this stage receive a Rewilding Training Tourism certificate and are eligible to move on to stage three field training (more details below and in the PDF).
“A large part of the second stage will revolve around scenario training,” explains Aukje van Gerven. “For example, participants might be tasked with coming up with an exclusive, early morning wolf tracking experience for the rest of the group. Learning by doing, they will be assessed all the way through their thought process. This could involve what they will do for the group, how they will deliver it, what rewilding elements they will incorporate, and what cultural or food elements they might add.”
Enhance your nature-based tourism business
The Rewilding Training Tourism programme will run on a cyclical basis going forwards. The third stage of the first training run, which is open to all those who pass the second stage, is scheduled for September this year. Stage one training will begin again this month (fully booked), and again in November and December (open for booking), with second stage field training in early 2022. The webinar series costs 195 euros, while costs for stages two and three have yet to be finalised (see PDF for more details).
Those interested in applying for the programme should e-mail Aukje van Gerven (firstname.lastname@example.org), outlining why this training would be beneficial to themselves and their business.
The first cycle of the Rewilding Training Tourism programme (2020/21) was developed and organised with funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery. The lottery made a special donation to Rewilding Europe Capital in 2020 to support the scaling up of European nature-based businesses.