Presentation held at the 5th European Ecotourism Conference, held September 10-14, 2018 in Tbilisi, Georgia Ecotourism in academic tourism education: How to connect two worlds In academic tourism education the concept of ecotourism is often only integrated as a theoretic concept. However, thorough knowledge about sustainability, stakeholder involvement, nature protection, climate change mitigation, destination planning and biodiversity are key assets every future tourism manager should possess. Protected areas can be valuable learning sites for practical experience about these topics. The key question is, how to bring these two – potentially complementary – learning spaces together. What are the academic requirements any ecotourism site can cater to and what are the contributions tourism students can add to the management of the sites? The presentation is not aiming at delivering the golden answer to that question. Building on some experiences of cooperation between htw saar, Saarland Business School, and the protected areas of Bliesgau Biosphere Reserve and Hunsrück-Hochwald Nationalpark, we are asking for ideas how to offer a setup for joint work on the aspects of ecotourism. We understand the presentation as a starting point for a mutually beneficial cooperation, collecting ideas for practical learning experiences to both make sustainable tourism development more tangible for tourism students and adding value for protected areas to cater as real learning environments about the crucial aspects of tourism development.