Edited by Ross Dowling and David Newsome
Chapter 16: Geo-interpretation: how and for whom?
The distinctiveness of geotourism resides in the emphasis on learning and understanding rather than in mere aesthetic appreciation of rocks and scenery. Therefore, interpretation is a vital component of geotourism. Interpretation techniques may be divided into four major groups: (1) permanent interpretative facilities at geosites, available at any time – information panels; (2) portable tools such as guidebooks, brochures, smartphone applications; (3) off-site facilities such as visitors’ centres, museums, exhibitions, dedicated websites; (4) direct interactions with a guide during guided outdoor walks. Contrasting motivations and levels of antecedent knowledge among tourists mean that these different techniques are preferably used as complementary, aimed at different categories of visitors, ranging from geo-experts to casual visitors. The needs of those with special interest in geoscience are best addressed in publications and via websites. Interpretative panels are better kept simple, although if given clear structure, more specific messages can also be conveyed.
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