Sustainable Tourism: Evaluation and Implementation- Dr. Janette Wallis

Sustainable Tourism: Evaluation and Implementation

When: July 29 – August 11, 2019

Application deadline: July 1, 2019

Course fee: $2900

Location: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Contact: Visit our website and/or email us at for more information

Course Description

In this course, we explore the growing industry of nature tourism and gain an understanding of its benefits and costs.  There is obvious educational value gained by tourists seeing wildlife in their own habitat and the mere presence of a tourist operation can provide a level of protection for wildlife species. Income generated by tourism is another major benefit, particularly when those funds are earned at the local level. However, there are many negative impacts of the tourism industry. Operations are often negligent of the needs and rights of local people, interfering with their customs and encroaching on their property. Moreover, pollution, degradation of the habitat, and negative effects on wildlife behavior can add to the costs of tourism. Thus, the term “ecotourism” was born. The “eco” part of ecotourism requires the tourism experience to be conducted in such a way to benefit wildlife, their habitats, and the people who live in and around the tourism site. This requires a careful approach to understanding the wildlife species being visited, protecting the environment, and assuring economic enhancement of relevant stakeholders. In this course, we will explore the impact of tourism on all stakeholders, including tour operators, tourists, governments, local people, and the wildlife themselves. The course will explore several case studies of nature tourism and we will visit a number of tourism sites. Students will work in small groups to develop a hypothetical ecotourism operation as part of the course requirement and develop a tourism assessment tool to be used as a potential accreditation system.

During the course participants will visit Kids Saving the Rainforest’s wildlife sanctuary and rescue center, Manuel Antonio National Park, a sustainable chocolate plantation, and take a boat tour of the Golfo Dulce for dolphin viewing and snorkeling. We overnight on the Boruca Indigenous Reserve where we will learn about the community and their traditional lifeways, and help with needed projects. Every effort is made to implement eco-friendly and socially responsible practices into our day-to-day operations, field courses and overall mission.

Enrollment is limited to 10 students. The course is open to both credit and non-credit seeking students. University credit can be arranged through your home institution.

Course Instructor:


Janette Wallis received her Ph.D. in an interdisciplinary planned program, which combined zoology, psychology, and anthropology, for the University of Oklahoma. She currently teaches wildlife conservation courses for the University of Oklahoma’ Environmental Studies program and environmental and conservation courses for the Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics. Dr. Wallis is Co-Vice Chair of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group’s Africa Section and a member of the board of directors for the Society for Conservation Biology’s Africa Section. In the latter role, she is coordinating the Young Women in Conservation Biology initiative. She is the Editor-in-Chief of African Primates, an IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group journal, and recently finished a ten-year service as Vice President for Conservation of the International Primatological Society. Dr. Wallis serves on the board of the Kids Saving the Rainforest wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation center in Costa Rica and is on the Scientific Advisory board of the Plastic Pollution Coalition. She is the Director of the Kasokwa-Kityedo Forest Project, which focuses on a series of forest fragments in central Uganda where chimpanzees, baboons, and several other wildlife species reside. Research at the site focuses on behavioral ecology, reproduction, conservation and human-wildlife interactions. Dr. Wallis co-edited – with Anne Russon – the book Primate Tourism: A Tool for Conservation? that was published in 2014.

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