Using Ecotourists to Assist in Determining the Content for Interpretation


  • Barbara A. Masberg


Ecotourism, interpretation, needs assessment.


This study examined the value of incorporating information collected from an outside group, ecotourists, into the interpretive planning process. Much interpretation is planned and implemented using internal sources or individuals within a particular organization, whereby determination of interpretive content should include input from the participant. This study resulted in a new model which contains methods so that external sources provide input into the interpretive planning process in a systematic manner. Interpretive planners were interviewed, and these planners saw the value of using outside groups because most were using "gut instinct" as a method to determine content. The usability and usefulness of the data and model were seen because methods to collect data from outside groups could be embedded in interpretation to provide ongoing information for developing interpretive programs, evaluation of programs, identifying content needs of specific visitor groups, or as a method to formalize decision making and prioritizing of interpretive content. As a result of this use, the interpretation would better "fit" the visitors at a particular site.





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