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Interpretation

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Interpretation is an important component as a means of influencing or even changing environmental attitudes and/or behaviour of visitors to protected areas. The two important components are communicating ideas and enriching visitor experiences. This essay will define interpretation and discuss the effectiveness of interpretation as a means of influencing or even changing environmental attitudes and/or behaviour of visitors to protected areas and evaluate the roles of tourism and environmental agencies in managing & controlling the impacts of tourism in protected areas. For the purpose of this research more visitor-focused definition will be used.
Definition of Interpretation

There are two ways to describe interpretation. The first would be listing the forms of interpretation. For example: information centre, guide walk and tour, guidebook, brochures and signs or pamphlets that provide information of the protected areas The example given above could be suggested that interpretation incorporates all the various ways in which organizer seek to communicate with their visitors. It is also sometimes refer to as visitors’ education.

Recently interpretation has been use as a recognized element of other types of attraction such as theme parks. The increase usage of interpretive activities reflects growing competition between attractions and increasing expectations from visitors. (Harris, 2005) Given the wide range of places where interpretation is used, it is not surprising to identify that there are others formal definitions available. The table 14.1 provides a selection of these definitions which take the second approach of describing the goals and key characteristics of interpretation.

These definitions are organized into two categories reflecting the different important thinking about interpretation. The first columns are center on visitors which define feature words such as communication, understanding significance and changes in perception. The second columns are referring to focusing on the management, the feature words that define from the Table 14.1 above are education, appreciation, protection and changes in behavior. The visitor-center definitions also have a broader focus with an emphasis on people understanding the word or environment as a whole while the management-centered definitions tend to concentrate on specific sites. These two approaches are not incompatible as the management-center definitions tend to lead visitors to become more passive receivers of interpretation and as a result interpretation is becoming more persuading than influential communications.

Nature-based Tourism

Tourism has been identified as one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world. The recent growth of nature-based of ecotourism has being identified as one of the most important contributor to the growth of tourism. (Orams, 1995)

The private sector is responding to the changing market as there is a huge increasing number of tourist resorts are utilising nature based attractions to lure visitors to their facilities. Both private and government sector tourist organisations or resources management/protection agencies have the same final goal, that is to promote appropriate recreational and tourist use of natural environment while protection the environment from degradation.

How does interpretation contribute to sustainable Nature based Tourism

Sustainable tourism has three core principles. The first principle are providing quality experiences for visitors or improving the quality of lifestyle of the hose community and protecting the environment. The second core principle is continuity. Sustainable tourism requires continuity of the resources upon which tourism is based, continuity of the culture of the host community, and continuity of visitor support or tourist demand. Finally, sustainable tourism is about balance. It is tourism that balances the needs of the host, guest and the destination environment (Moscardo)

Three main aspects are involved in the argument for interpretation supporting sustainable nature-based tourism. Firstly, interpretation can be means of managing the interactions between nature-based and tourists. The educational element of interpretation is critical in proving visitors with information on how to behave properly or behaviour when interact with wildlife or consent with their safety. Secondly, the educational element of interpretation can also raise visitors’ knowledge and awareness of the environment and habitats. Thirdly , quality interpretation can enhance visitors satisfaction and through this it can contribute to the commercial viability of tourist operations.

Managing the Environment

Managers of a tourist setting want visitors to behave in a particular fashion, and then they have to tell the visitors what they want. While knowledge alone may not be sufficient to encourage appropriate behaviours in wildlife tourism situations, it is certainly a necessary condition (Moscardo). Thus an important role for interpretation in sustainable wildlife tourism is to inform visitors of the consequences of certain behaviours and to provide education to encourage minimal impacts.
There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that interpretation programs in natural areas can be effective in terms of informing visitors about appropriate behaviours and encouraging them to engage in those behaviours

An example of the effectiveness of interpretation in managing the interactions between humans and wildlife can be found in Frost and McCool’s (1988) study of a bald eagle viewing site. This study found that well-explained regulations combined with interpretation were successful in modifying visitor behaviour. After experiencing an interpretation program almost 90% of the visitors understood that the restrictions were necessary and 88% felt the restrictions either had no negative effect or facilitated their experience (Frost & McCool, 1988). In a similar research Newsome Moore and Dowling (2002) report successful learning outcomes from an interpretive program aimed at encouraging divers to behave in a minimal impact fashion. These authors provide evidence that the interpretive program resulted in less coral damage in areas along the Egyptian coast of the Red Sea provide a review of interpretation evaluation research in zoos that concludes there is evidence that zoo interpretation programs can be successful in encouraging greater knowledge of wildlife and awareness of wildlife conservation issues.

What is known about the effectiveness of interpretation?

Several themes have emerged in this review of the available research literature on the effectiveness of wildlife interpretation. The first is that mere exposure to wildlife is unlikely to have much impact on visitors’ knowledge and wildlife conservation attitudes. Wildlife-based experiences need to be associated with structured, quality interpretation programs to be able to influence what visitors think and believe. The second is that there are several factors that are consistently associated with more effective interpretive activities. These are:
• Inclusion of multi-sensory activities
• Inclusion of participatory activities
• Building of personal connections to visitors
• Easily read interpretive signs

Taken from Patterson and Bitgood, 1988

Further explanation will be explained in the next few paragraphs

Principle of effective interpretation

Mindfulness theory comes from social psychology, where it is used to explain a large variety of everyday behaviour (Moscardo 1996). According to mindfulness theory, in any given situation a person can be mindful or mindless. Mindfulness is a state of active cognitive or mental processing. Mindful people pay attention to the information available in the environment around them, react to new information and learn. Mindless people, on the other hand, follow established routines or scripts for behaviour and pay minimal attention to the environment and/or new information. Mindfulness has been shown to result in more positive perceptions of an experience, better responses to management requests and conservation messages, excitement, learning and satisfaction in leisure and tourism settings (Moscardo, 1999).

Good Orientation and attention to visitor comfort
Visitors need to be able to find their places around easily, understand information that is related to the places and organize their visit and be comfortable so that they can focus on the interpretive experiences. Attractions need to have good way-finding system and information at the entrance or foyer about the facilities available, what are the safety precautions of the attractions.

Personal Relevance or Importance One of the most effective ways to encourage mindfulness is to build a link between the interpretation topic and some personal relevance or importance to the visitors. There are number of ways to connect interpretive material to inform the visitors. For example interest and knowledge at the simplest level, similarity and figure of speech can be used to connect new information to things that the visitors are likely to already know or familiar with.

Variety or change in an experience
There are a number of ways that change can be incorporated into an interpretive experience. These include the use of range of different media, the development of activities that vary in terms of the level of physical and mental input required by the visitor with a balance between more active and more contemplative opportunities, seasonal events programmes and the development of different facets of the interpretation topic. Even text on signs and panels can be varied in a number of ways For example: guided bus and walking tour, interactive computer displays on various wildlife animals instead of interaction with them.

Multi-sensory experiences
While traditionally interpretation is based around reading and looking, it is easily possible to incorporate touch as additional sensory experiences by offering a variety of objects for visitors to handle and feel. In addition, new technologies allow for the incorporation of sound, smell and climate effects into the interpretive experience.
Example in New Zealand, The Antarctic Centre, and a visitor attraction in Christchurch provides a special room where visitors can experience the cold and windy conditions of Antarctica

Ways which interpretation influence the behaviour of tourists

Motivation/ Incentive to act
Interpretation cannot force people to change their behaviour, rather it seeks to persuade voluntary behaviour change; therefore, some authors consider that the aims of interpretation should be no more ambitious than simply increasing knowledge and understanding (Hammit, 1984). However, if interpretation is to be an effective technique in managing tourist–nature interaction it should do more than this: it should prompt behaviour change (Orams, 1994). At a basic level, interpretation should seek to manage people’s behaviour so that the way they behave is respectful of the potential impact their actions may have on the environment.

In order to prompt behaviour change, tourists must be convinced of the reasons why they should change. Providing examples of human activities that are harming the environment is an important mechanism for creating behaviour change motivation.

Opportunity to act The opportunity for people to act upon the motivation created in the previous paragraph is likely to be a critical element of an interpretation which actually results in participant behaviour change. For example, an interpretation programme may include such things as beach clean-up exercises, or data gathering for research projects. An interpreter may have a petition for participants to sign, or membership application forms for environmental organisations. Environmentally friendly products can be made available for people to buy (paper recycling) and lists outlining changes that people can make at home to help reduce waste and other actions which help to protect the natural environment. All these are examples of opportunities for individuals to take action and become more environmentally responsible.

This variable is important as most of the participants in nature-oriented tourism have good intentions, which they wish to be environmentally responsible. However for some after they leave the places or venue, those good intentions may not result in changed behaviour. By providing opportunities for participants to take action as part of an interpretation programme, effective behaviour change can be prompted ‘on the spot’.

Measuring the effectiveness of environmental interpretation

Indicators of Tourist In this section there will be four different factors which help to measuring the effectiveness of interpretation and they are satisfaction, education, (environmental) attitude and behaviour lifestyle change

This is measure when the tourist understand information about the places or regulations and there are happy with the changes that they are force/ask to make or during the trip they had some experiences which change their behaviour lifestyle or attitude towards certain things, for example: A tourist visited places which provide information about kill of sharks cutting their fins and thrown back into the sea alive, and after this trip he/she change his/her behaviour ant attitude towards consuming or shark fins. For this case interpretation has taken places as this had affect the lifestyle of the tourist and at the same time information is successfully pass down to the tourist.

Indicators on the natural environment
For this section, measuring is done through by monitor minimise disturbance of the environment, if there is any improvement of the environment like habitat protection and lastly long term health and viability of environment.

Conclusion
In summary this paper shared with us what are some of the importance factors which influence visitors to change their behaviour or environment attitude towards protected areas.
Interpretation is also an important tools for managing visitors when they visit places and providing them information on what they can do, what to take note of and why is the places design like this etc.

Evidence tells us that effective interpretation:
● allows visitors to find and build personal connections,
● offers a variety of experiential dimensions,
● is interactive and multi-sensory,
● Offers new and/or multiple perspectives on the topics being presented, and
● is part of a comfortable setting where it is easy for visitors to find their ways.…...

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