Original Research

Evaluating the effectiveness of guided versus non-guided interpretation in the Kruger National Park, South Africa

Mark Roberts, Kevin Mearns, Victoria Edwards
Koedoe | Vol 56, No 2 | a1160 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v56i2.1160 | © 2014 Mark Roberts, Kevin Mearns, Victoria Edwards | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 March 2013 | Published: 24 June 2014

About the author(s)

Mark Roberts, School of Environmental Design and Management, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Kevin Mearns, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa, South Africa
Victoria Edwards, School of Real Estate and Planning, Henley Business School, University of Reading, United Kingdom

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In the face of growing pressure placed on the natural environment, the study on which this article is based considered the effectiveness of interpretive provision in mitigating the harmful effects of tourism on the environment. The aim of this research was to determine whether guided or non-guided interpretation is most effective in reaching the stated goals of interpretation. The four key goals of interpretation, namely visitor satisfaction, knowledge gain, attitude change and modification of behaviour intent, were used in the assessment of the relative effectiveness of guided and non-guided interpretation in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Through comparing responses to questionnaires from post-visit samples and observing both guided and non-guided interpretation, the research found that guided interpretation was only marginally more effective in reaching the four key goals of interpretation than the non-guided interpretive media. Guided interpretation was found to be more effective in terms of visitor satisfaction, whilst guided and non-guided interpretation had only marginal differences in effectiveness in relation to knowledge gain, attitude change and intent to modify behaviour.

Conservation implications: The necessity of implementing an appropriate interpretation programme within protected areas cannot be overemphasised. The interpretation programme should be designed to include elements of both guided and non-guided interpretation in order to achieve a predetermined goal. The effectiveness of the programme should be evaluated periodically and amended where appropriate.


Interpretation; protected areas; visitor management; wildlife viewing; guided tours


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