Oayporn – or Bew, as she is known to her friends – wants to do something that benefits others, not just herself. She comes from Chiang Mai (northern Thailand) and belongs to the Karen ethnic group. “My parents are farmers and we live in a small village surrounded by high mountains and forest,” she told us, also sharing her desire to return to her village and improve the lives of members of the community. “Therefore, I think involving myself in ecotourism is the right path.”
With the support of the Xavier Learning Community (XLC) in Chiang Rai, she has been studying towards a bachelor’s degree in English from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (Thailand). The programme includes an Ecotourism and Hospitality Management concentration which she elected last year but this did not fully satisfy her needs and expectations, leaving her hungry for more knowledge in this field. The recently launched JWL Ecotourism professional certificate programme (certified by the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management Sant Ignasi HTSI, Spain), therefore spoke to her (also as awarded credits would count towards her degree).
This eight-week programme addresses the need of communities around the world to promote responsible tourism that allows for the generation of income whilst also preserving communities’ fragile resources. Learners gain both an understanding and skills in managing ecotourism resources, including the necessary knowledge and practices required to design and promote sustainable tourism-related products and services. After graduating, Bew plans on working in hospitality to gain experience and the capital required to then go back to her community and establish an ecotourism business.
I hope that running the business in my community will be a good opportunity for me and the villagers to develop our village as a sustainable tourist destination. I hope this can also improve the well-being of the people in my community by opening creating jobs for them to increase their income, while promoting and preserving the old traditional culture and environment. The young generations can also come back to cultivate their own community while taking care of their parents.