In the last two years, LT&C hosted in its office in Arendal two interns. In 2019 Nina Breck, who had already finished studying tourism, came for a whole year. And in 2020 Lena Moritz, a Biology student, spent two months within an Erasmus stipend. Although working on a tiny budget, they were in some way the first paid staff LT&C as an otherwise voluntary organisation so far had. They both were valuable to have, and they produced concrete outputs. But what did the internship mean to them? To build further on mutual experiences, Peter Prokosch interviewed them to find out:
How did you find your way to LT&C, and in what stage of your study?
Nina: After I finished my Masters I was working in a hotel in Edinburgh and was simultaniously looking for Ecotourism jobs on a website called Ecoclub, which was recommended to me during my studies. There, I found LT&C’s internship description and applied – got an interview, and was invited to come to Arendal two months later.
Lena: I found my way to LT&C through Peter’s connections to other organisations. I was searching for an internship in Norway at an environmental organisation. The Norwegian UN Association I contacted to ask them if they hire interns, referred me to Peter and his organisation. Afterwards, Peter and I were in contact, and we arranged a period and a possible topic for my internship at LT&C.
What did you learn about the relationship between nature conservation and tourism?
Nina: As I started my higher education from a tourism perspective, I only really began to grasp the links within tourism and conservation during my MSc in Ecotourism, where I was shown much more from the site of nature conservation. Nevertheless, at LT&C, I studied, experienced, and helped shape best-practice examples where tourism can genuinely benefit a destination first-hand. I got to know the people working hard to make their vision a reality, protecting natural areas and wildlife and giving back to the local communities. So in hindsight, I learned that the complex relationships between tourism and the natural environment constantly influence each other and that successful conservation projects utilising tourism require dedication, time and many different areas of expertise. This is why LT&C as a network makes so much sense to me, as people from all over the globe equipped with different areas of expertise can support and learn from each other on conservation projects.
Lena: During my internship, I learned a lot about the diverse ways of how tourism supports the establishment and management of protected areas all around the world. Tourism does not only provide financial support for protected areas, but it also contributes to important educational work and much more.
Before my internship, I thought – maybe like many people in nature conservation – that tourism is mainly harming the environment. When I thought about tourism, pictures of aeroplanes, crowded beaches, and littering popped in my head, but this internship taught me about the positive impact tourism can have on nature and local people. It is no longer this one-sided image of an environmental sector, but an outstanding possibility to protect biodiversity worldwide.
What were the concrete outputs you produced during that time?
Nina: During my year at LT&C I helped Peter in the Arendal office with daily tasks and re-designed the website. I also attended LT&C’s future meetings on Rügen last year and in Königstein, Germany in 2019.
I was especially involved in the project for ‘Opportunities for Ecotourism in Slovakia’, lead by Aevis in 2019, where Diana Körner and I interviewed LT&C members and partners on their best-practice examples to produce a Handbook on ‘Best Practices for Ecotourism in Slovakia’ for stakeholders and officials in Slovakia. This output was concluded in last year’s virtual conference, where we presented our outcomes to 125 attendees from 11 countries.
Lena: While working at LT&C, I did a lot of research about protected areas, especially in Norway. I summarised all the information I gathered in the two months in a report. So, if you are interested in learning something about protected areas, or if you would like to know what I did during my internship, you can read my report here: Can Tourism contribute to improve and enlarge Norwegian Protected Area network in the light of the expected 30%-target for 2030?
What would you tell a friend about LT&C and keep in mind if applying or qualifying for an internship in Arendal?
Nina: It doesn’t matter if you are from the field of tourism or more confident in nature conservation, during your internship you will learn much about both fields. The work itself is very diverse and it really depends on what you are interested in and how you want to shape your internship. You will get in contact with many different people within different projects around the world and will be able to make meaninful connections.
Lena: I would tell my friend that LT&C offers you an excellent opportunity to gain experience in an internationally operating organisation with many awesome people who are always eager to help you. I enjoyed that I was able to work on my project and that I was integrated well in the work of LT&C. During the internship I did not only learn something regarding my subject of interest – nature conservation –, but I also learned other skills that are very relevant for my future career.
How may your internship influence your other career or future job decisions?
Nina: It already has. As through the LT&C network, I have realised my current position as a Sustainable Tourism Consultant. I am now working together with a highly experienced Consultant to produce outcomes for the Malta Tourism Authority. Not at last due to my positive experience in Slovakia, I look forward to being further involved in working to realise Ecotourism in the country in 2021. In general, I am very confident that in future endeavours, I can rely on the strong friendships and connections I made during my time at LT&C and member of the LT&C penguin network.
Lena: Because I would like to work for an environmental organisation after my studies, this internship gave me an in-depth view of how an (international) organisation works. It is always good to have this kind of knowledge (besides the scientific knowledge students learn at the university) for future jobs. Furthermore, this internship taught me that there are several ways towards the same goal and that every sector can support nature conservation and offers many possibilities to do so.