Tourism as an interpretive and mediating influence: A review of the authority of guidebooks in protected areas

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Tourism Analysis, 2009, 14 (5), pp. 701 - 716
Issue Date:
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© 2009 Cognizant Comm. Corp. This short review seeks to present the outcomes of a study that examined the potential effectiveness of guidebooks as a form of interpretation in reducing environmental impacts in a national park. In it, Wearing and Whenman provide a review based on information gained from interviews with 29 trekkers undertaking the Overland Track in Tasmania, Australia. Results from the interviews where correlated with the literature and indicate that trekkers are more likely to use guidebooks at the planning stage of a trek in order to make decisions about what area to visit, what equipment to take, transport, and accommodation. The guidebooks used by trekkers in this inquiry were found to have only a small amount of information on minimal impact messages and such messages were found to be poorly structured. As a result, guidebooks were found to have little influence in mediating responsible environmental behavior in protected areas. The study recommends that well-structured minimal impact messages be incorporated into guidebooks using the Elaboration Likelihood Model of attitude change and persuasion to direct the process. Readers of Tourism Analysis are encouraged to reflect upon how the guidebooks available in their own tourism/tourist arenas strongly influence or undersuspectingly mediate what is there.
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