Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nature Guides

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(Monday, 20 September)

I was able to meet with Kevin again and he was once again very helpful. He talked to Yvette, who trains tourist/nature guides, and she said she would be happy to talk to me about the role of guides, the process of becoming one, their connection to ecotourism, and so on. Kevin says he can take me out to meet with her at Nahoon next week. Nature guides provide one of the essential components of ecotourism, which is environmental education. According to Ecotourism and Sustainable Development by Martha Honey, which I've been reading, “essential to good ecotourism are well-trained, multilingual naturalist guides with skills in natural and cultural history, environmental interpretation, ethical principles, and effective communication.” I’ve been thinking of specific questions I should ask Yvette. Outside of the basic background (what do you do, why do you do it) and my obligatory questions (what do you think of ecotourism?), this is what I have:

1. What is the purpose of guides at Nahoon and other Nature Reserves and parks? What do they teach, and what are they hoping to accomplish?

2. How much demand is there for trained guides?

3. Who benefits from the guides, and how available are they (are they mostly for school groups or tours or individuals, etc.)?

4. What is the process of becoming a guide? What is the focus of the training and the requirements for certification, if certification is required?

5. How important are guides to a reserve, park or tour?

If anyone has input on these, or other questions I’ve missed, I’d love to hear them. Kevin also talked to the owner of the Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve, which is about 30km away, who would also be happy to speak with me if we can find a time that he’s in town or Kevin has business out there. I have a lot of questions I could ask him, as an owner of a successful private game reserve, but haven’t written them out yet. These will both be really great people to talk to for background about ecotourism and nature tourism around East London, and I’m very excited to see what they can tell me.

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