A program based on the adventure tourism industry is designed to be hands-on and field-oriented. The Coastal Eco-Adventure Tourism Certificate program available at the Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert, B.C. prepares students for entry level positions within the tourism sector.
?It is marine-focused because we are surrounded by a marine environment. The students are quite immersed in the skills that are needed on the field,? said Debbie Stava, co-ordinator Coastal Eco-Adventure Tourism. ?It is very scenic around here, very mountainous. There are a lot of interior waterways so people can be doing flat water canoeing or they can also do ocean kayaking. Some of the examples of eco-tourism are whale-watching trips, trips around the harbor and hiking."
Students in the program take sport fishing, power boat operation, and marine emergency duties.
?We tend to bring in a lot of people from the area to teach the class. People who are First Nations talk about the culture and the geographical area around Prince Rupert,? said Stava. ?We try to prepare our students for the move into tourism sectors that are emerging."
Applicants must meet the prerequisites for the language courses. Students should possess a good swimming ability, have some keyboard and computing skills, a medical assessment, and proof of a current immunization form. Students must first be interviewed by the program co-ordinator. Students must provide medical coverage for the duration of the course and must submit proof of coverage.
Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in British Columbia?s provincial economy.
?We?ve seen a big trend in Prince Rupert. We not only get a lot of Canadian travelers, but we also get a lot of European travelers as well,? said Stava. ?Their primary interest is to get out to the wilderness around here.?
Students are in field training for 70 per cent of the time. They are in class only when they have to study chart work or first aid.
?For the most part they are out in the field, learning about the reality of what they are getting into. This is not a program that runs from Monday to Friday, nine to three. Students often spend anywhere from five to 10 days at a time without a break,? said Stave. ?Their days can be from eight in the morning until 10 at night depending on what they are doing.?
The next program starts Jan. 8, and runs until June 1.
?We only accept 12 students per program. So far, we have nine enrolled. Students range in age from 19 up to 55 years of age,? she said.
Students entering the program must be able to participate in physically rigorous field exercises in all types of terrain and weather conditions.
Dianna Neuman, 33, from the Sucker Creek Band in Alberta recently completed the program.
?I work up north every year and my girlfriend said to me, ?I can?t believe that you go out in the bush like that without training in first aid. What if something happens to somebody. You do not even have your first aid ticket.? So I said to her that as soon as I get back that I was going to get it,? said Neuman. ?When I looked at this course I thought ?hey, I will have all sorts of first aid tickets after I?m done.??
?There are a lot of jobs available in tourism in B.C. You get so many certificates from the course that there is a lot of places that you can apply for jobs,? said Neuman. ?It is a good course. The instructors were wonderful. I actually miss the course.?