1. Allow/Enable the Experience of Peace in Nature – Nishorgo: Most of all, allow tourists to experience the silence and peace of nature. Allow time to drink in the quiet. It is the feeling/experience that Tourists take with them. It is the feeling/experience that means the most to them. The knowledge you may think you are imparting to them will be gone in a matter of hours – sad to say – but the feeling will stay. So enable their visit to be one of discovery and exploration.
2. Don’t Talk too Much: The flip side of this need for silence and peace is that the Guide should NOT keep talking. That is one of the pet peeves of all tourists about Guides. When they just won’t shut up, it makes me want to scream. My only memory of visiting the Incan Temple of the Sun in Cuzco with my brother 20 years ago was that the Tour Guide just wouldn’t stop pointing to rocks and saying “This rock…original Inca”. She wouldn’t shut up and let us enjoy it.
3. Emphasize the Human-relevant over the Dry-Scientific: In talking about nature, emphasize the anecdotes and the human-relevant over the scientific. This is the genius of Enam ul Haque’s presentation. He leaves you with the excitement that such and such a bird used to cover this area. Or that it feeds its young only on a special species of insect. Or that people hunt it for its eggs, which they use for medicine, or whatever. But he never tries to smother you with factoids out of context.
4. Show your Love of Nature – It is Magnetic: Show your love of nature. Such love of nature is powerful and magnetic. And it inspires such love in others. Your love of nature will draw out their love of nature.
5. Give a Brief Cultural Context: Give tourists a brief cultural context before the hike. Such a context gives them a framework for “seeing” the forest. The context can include:
a. Info about key people/groups/stakeholders that live here:
i. Tea workers;
6. Give a Brief Natural and Historical Context Give them some history of the forest area and its management. I personally find this fascinating, and I think others would too. Eg.
a. 200 years ago, before British colonial rule, this was a wild natural forest area of such and such a type
b. During British time, it became x
c. This patch of natural forest is representative of forests that ran through this entire area, and through the Hill Tracts.
d. Now, this forest is part of a Reserve Forest area that runs from here to x.
e. The Forest Department has had offices here for 100 years (we want always to highlight the long history of the FD, as part of the institutional pride of the FD)
7. Use Appropriate and Non-Offensive Language: Use appropriate terms for sensitive subjects: e.g., Adivasi vs Tribal (?); woman vs female (?); African vs black; etc.
8. Treat Women Appropriately: Treat women as people, not as delicate objects. I know there are some cultural sensitivities here, so you’ll have to be careful. It can be bothersome to women when they are treated as delicate things that cannot ford a creek without a helping hand, or cannot step over a log without assistance. Allow women to ask for help, or to show that they need it.
9. Give Advance Warning about Scary Things: Warn people ahead of time about the things they might be squeamish about:
a. Tell them that leeches are present, and one may attach to their legs/arms. If it does, explain that the steps are clear, and you as a Guide are ready to help them:
i. They can flick off the leech
ii. You can give them a Band-Aid to stop the bleeding.
iii. They will not otherwise be hurt by these little things.
iv. To prevent them, they should do x, y and z.
b. Tell them about snakes, as many people are deeply terrified of them.
i. There are very few, and those that are present will not hurt them.
ii. They should only be careful not to stick their hands inside logs, etc.
10. Be Presentable. Sounds like a minor thing, but it is in fact quite important to many people. If the Guide is dirty, or unkempt, it bothers lots of people.
11. Bring the Right Stuff: Have a Few Handy Things with you on each outing that may be referred to by Tourists:
a. Birds of the area
b. The Eight Indicator species
c. The trail brochures
d. Bug spray/lotion
12. Be Prepared to Ask for a Fee: Have your speech prepared about your fees. You deserve to be remunerated for your work. Your community deserves to benefit. Give them an approved/estimated amount that you should be remunerated.
This knowledge resource was provided by Robert T. Winterbottom, Chief of Party, International Resources Group (IRG) , Integrated Protected Area Co-management (IPAC) Project.
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This article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’