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Ecotourism: New Knowledge by Innovation, New Jobs by Knowledge Transfer

Ecotourism is considered to be an answer to the compelling need to enhance the positive and minimise the negative impacts of the (ever) growing tourism industry, promote responsible travel with respect to culture and nature and improve the well-being of local people. It is a special form of tourism that is currently being promoted all over Europe; it has the potential to grow much faster than the mass tourism industry in general, however, with a condition that relevant knowledge and skills are available. Despite this, ecotourism is still a new/developing area and analysis in the partner countries shows that training in ecotourism is at genric levels at the moment.The ECOTOUR project aims to improve the skills and competences of people in the tourism sector by introducing an ecotourism training programme in Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania and Spain, while at the same time encouraging ecotourism development in project countries in particular and Europe in general. The project is based on the transfer of the results of LdV pilot project ECOLL that was completed in 2007 and provided innovative results that were successfully integrated in formal training programmes in partner countries. The objectives of ECOTOUR include the analysis of the ECOLL training programme and materials, their adaptation to the requirements of the target group and project countries; sharing experiences in ecotourism training and development of new (e-)learning contents ; testing and evaluation; dissemination of information about the project and project results and preparation of appropriate mechanisms/processes for their further exploitation.The project will be implemented by a consortium of 8 partners from 4 EU countries spanning from North to South of Europe (Cyprus, Spain, Estonia, Lithuania). The consortium includes education and training organisations, enterprises and authorities responsible for tourism development, thus allowing to combine different views and experiences and achieve the expected impact of the project.The main outcome of the project will be a state of the art ecotourism training programme and support materials (Trainers Handbook, Learner's Guide) available in Greek, Estonian, Lithuanian, Spanish and English. The project will also produce a number of results that will be used for dissemination (project website, leaflets, CDs, conference) that will help to promote the project and exploit its results.The primary target group of the project are people working in the tourism sector - entrepreneurs, employees, guides, tourism policy makers. The project will help to significantly increase their access to training, improve their qualifications in the area of ecotourism and increase employability in the emerging ecotourism related jobs. It will also contribute to the development of this type of tourism in partner countries. It is expected that after the completion of the project the results could also be "exported" to the other geographical areas of Europe.
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