A new model for guide training and transformative outcomes: a case study in sustainable marine-wildlife ecotourism

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Journal of Ecotourism, ISSN: 1472-4049, Vol: 16, Issue: 3, Page: 269-290

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Walker, Kaye; Weiler, Betty
Informa UK Limited
Social Sciences; Business, Management and Accounting; 150601, 150603; Business; Tourism and Travel
article description
Interactive experiences with non-captive, charismatic, marine megafauna, such as whales and dolphins, present a growing ecotourism trend with potentially positive and negative sustainability outcomes. Its sustainable future in countries recently developing this type of tourism is dependent upon not only operational best practices and management, but also the extent to which such experiences contribute to positive change to pro-environmental awareness, attitudes and behaviours of both local guides and tourists. This paper presents a new guide training model that was developed from empirical research and has been utilised to train local guides in Tonga. The Guiding Model links tourists’ intentional post-experience behaviours with the guiding and interpretive elements of ecotourism activities using means-end analysis and a ladder of abstraction questioning process called the PIIA. The paper outlines the use of the model to develop the first nationally accredited swim-with-whale guide training programme in the South Pacific. Application of the training model is described and examined with respect to its capacity to underpin positive sustainability effects in the broader sense and upon tourists’ pro-environmental perceptions through the facilitation of the local guides’ awareness, reflection and appreciation of their role in achieving contemporary ecotourism goals, and linking these to their personal values.