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Growing number of travelers flock to the course of nature
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In order to make children cherish the environment, many schoolteachers tell stories about the relationship between man and nature.

For example, teachers may tell that a nettle can catch as many as 540 harmful insects such as mosquito, fly, locust and ant each day. They may then ask the students the total amount of pests a sparrow can catch from April to September. Students would be amazed by the positive impact that a little bird can have on crops.

Studying the environment is of paramount importance in schools.

Many educational centers and social institutions now organize community-based courses and workshops on environmental studies.

Founded with the mission in mind, the Hong Kong St. James Settlement Continued Education Centre in Wan Chai is organizing a certificate course named Nature and Culture In-depth Travel.

It is a "train the trainer" course for teachers, social workers and people from different industries to appreciate and understand Hong Kong's environment and culture.

The course is designed for nature-lovers and for those who are keen on saving the environment and minimizing adverse impacts on nature when traveling.

The course includes the introduction of scenic spots, and a 15-minute walk from Wan Chai to one of the most beautiful country parks on Hong Kong Island.

Participants would appreciate the beauty of the places and gain knowledge and most of all the professional skills in leading an activity held in a natural environment .

It is interesting that not many participants of the course are from the travel industry.

In fact, the course design is based on the concept of sustainable development which can be applied to every kind of industry.

Aside from learning how to communicate with other people, participants of the course would also learn how to communicate with nature.

Market research has shown that the urge to do nature-based traveling is much stronger these days.

A large number of travelers enjoy the sun, sand, sea, flora and fauna a lot more now and the travel industry is aware of that.

There is a special traveling trend worldwide.

More than half of the travelers from the USA and Canada are interested in visiting national parks and seeing wildlife. Tourists from Germany generally love nature and wildlife. They love to explore the countryside as well as local culture and rainforests. Scandinavian travelers prefer natural environment and adventurous experiences, and almost half of English travelers are interested in wildlife,nature and culture.

More and more people now prefer a nature-based travel experience.

The most important factor in people's choice of a tour, according to surveys, is that the experience involves "activities which don't damage the environment".

The course comprises 10 lectures and three eco-trips and is conducted by specialists, researchers, biologists, professional tour leaders and marketing personnel.

It has been included in the list of reimbursable courses for Continuing Education Fund (CEF).

It certainly provides a platform for participants to explore Hong Kong.

The author is the marketing development director of HK Discovery.

(China Daily HK Edition March 14, 2008)

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