Stories of people and places: interpretation, tourism and sustainability

Moscardo, Gianna (2015) Stories of people and places: interpretation, tourism and sustainability. In: Hall, C. Michael, Gössling, Stefan, and Scott, Daniel, (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and Sustainability. Routledge, Abingdon, UK, pp. 294-301.

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[Extract] In 1992, Irish commentator Fintan O'Toole challenged the growing use of interpretation at Irish tourist attractions quoting Susan Sontag's words, 'interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of "meanings"'(l992: 12). O'Toole argued that the provision of tourist interpretation had become excessive, interfering with the ahility of visitors to have their own experiences and to create their own meanings and that it turned nature and culture into commercial products. Fifteen years later, he raised similar concerns about the development of interpretation at the Cliffs of Moher, this time claiming that 'you can be entertained, mildly educated, fed, relieved and gently parted from some money [but] you cannot be moved' (O'Toole 2007:16). These concerns are consistent with those listed by Bramwell and Lane (2005) in their brief critical review of interpretation. While, O'Toole (1992, 2007) recognises the importance of managing visitor impact and safety, he questions if interpretation is the best way to achieve these goals. More than 20 years later this challenge remains largely unanswered but, arguably, it has become a more important question as tourism is increasingly under pressure to demonstrate its contribution to sustainability. This chapter will define interpretation, focusing on why and how it is used in different tourism contexts, arguing that it has four main functions: creating visitor experiences, assisting in visitor management, supporting tourism development; and (potentially) contributing to sustainability more broadly. The chapter will take each of these four functions and, using a selective review of key papers published in the last 10 years, highlight key trends and major issues.

Item ID: 37998
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-0-415-66248-2
Keywords: interpretation, sustainable tourism, sustainability, stories
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2015 05:39
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150606 Tourist Behaviour and Visitor Experience @ 100%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900399 Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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