Tour guiding and wildlife interpretation
Good guiding, including good interpretation is vital for a quality wildlife tourism experience (whether via face-to-face guiding, signs, apps, nature trail brochures, books or other means. Poor interpretation can range from irritating and frustrating to highly mis-leading, embarrassing and downright appalling.
“Interpretation” in wildlife tourism refers to the educational component of a tour, presenting accurate information in a way that enhances an understanding and appreciation of the animals and their ecosystems. Well-presented interpretation, especially if interactive, can greatly add to the enjoyment and satisfaction of visitors, whether on a tour, visiting a wildlife park or staying at an eco-lodge, encouraging visitors to return or recommend the venue or tour to others.It can also be an effective tool for management of visitor behaviour, helping them realize how their actions could affect wildlife and their habitats during their travels, and also encourage environmentally sound behaviour after returning home (e.g. choosing sustainable products, reducing waste that could harm wildlife and habitats, contributing by donations or direct involvement to conservation projects).
Other essentials of quality guiding include the safety of guests, friendliness and politeness, help for the disabled, adherence to principles of animal welfare and biodiversity conservation, and remembering that although travellers usually want tolerant they are also on vacation to enjoy themselves.
Pages relevant to quality guiding and interpretation include:
- A report on our 2016 Workshop on excellence in interpretation, Enjoyable, Memorable, Meaningful: Using Wildlife Tourism to Do it All/
- A follow-up workshop “Wildlife Interpretation: Into the Future“, 2017
- The value of good guiding: synopsis of a discussions at a wildlife tourism workshop in 2012
- Wildlife tours for the disabled It is not only the fit and healthy who can be keen to experience our wildlife, and tour operators need to be aware of this.
- Operators behaving badly: blog entry on undesirable guide behaviours
- Many references under our research literature page