Tour guide certification in the Australian ecotourism industry: conception to adulthood
journal contributionposted on 08.06.2017, 02:25 by Black, Rosemary, Weiler, Betty
Guides have many important roles to perform in the ecotourism experience, such as ensuring the safety of the visitor, providing accurate and compelling interpretation of sites, and modelling appropriate environmental and cultural behaviour. High guiding standards assist in serving this wide range of interests, although there are few examples to date of enforcement of guiding standards in ecotourism. Recent interest in accreditation and professional certification within the tourism industry can be attributed in part to recognition that consumers' expectations are higher, and they have a heightened awareness of service quality, improved safety and sustainable environmental issues. An ecotour guide certification program known as the EcoGuide Program has recently been developed in Australia. This program is a voluntary, industry initiative developed to provide recognition and reward best practice nature/ecotour guiding. As the EcoGuide Program matures it is envisaged that it will achieve its aim of maintaining and improving the quality of ecotour guiding, as well as raising the profile of guides as an integral part of the ecotourism experience. Using the analogy of the human life cycle, this paper outlines the background to and development of this professional certification program. This chronological review of the EcoGuide Program reflects the successes and challenges of developing an ecotour guide certification, and serves as a model for others exploring tour guide certification.