Stakeholders' experiences of an interpretation accreditation system : a case study in Banff National Park, Canada / by Rosanna L. Maunder.
Maunder, Rosanna Lynn
DisciplineOutdoor Recreation, Parks & Tourism
SubjectTour guides - Training
National parks and reserves employees - Training
National parks and reserves - Interpretive programs
Banff National Park
Mountain Parks Heritage Interpretation Association (MPHIA)
MetadataShow full item record
Previous research suggests that guided interpretation in nature-based settings has the potential to develop positive attitudes towards conservation and can foster appropriate visitor behavior in parks and protected areas. However, such goals are unlikely to be achieved without adequately trained personnel. In response, professional associations have been formed and professional accreditation systems have been developed (in countries such as Australia, United States and Canada) in part to enhance the quality assurance for nature-based tour guides. While considerable research has focused on guide effectiveness and roles, there have been few studies that have explored the issues surrounding implementation of accreditation requirements. Using the Mountain Parks Heritage Interpretation Association (MPHIA) located in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada as a case study the intent of the research has been to discover how a professional association and the concept of accreditation are accepted by a guiding community. By understanding the perceptions of stakeholders (guides, operations owners. Parks Canada, and MPHIA’s management) in regards to the accreditation program, this research aimed to enhance the overall effectiveness of the services provided by interpretive guides in the Rocky Mountain National Parks while also contributing to knowledge base in allied fields including: tourism, parks and recreation, outdoor leadership and education. Although overall there was a general acceptance of the need for MPHIA and its programs, by the fourteen stakeholders who were interviewed for this study, some specific criticisms were voiced in regard to the content, and evaluation of its programs, the national and international transferability of its qualifications and its image and credibility. These concerns were manifested in a lack of commitment and involvement among some guides and tourism operators. Given this outcome, there is a need for MPHIA to examine the content and relevance of its programs; to increase links to national and international organizations involved in guiding; and to broaden its scope to encompass a more diverse clientele within the tourism industry in Banff and beyond. More generally, observations from interviewees suggested that a fruitful area for future research would be the impacts on certification programs of the peripatetic lifestyle of guides, the cost of resort living and the insecurity and seasonal nature of employment in the guiding field.