In a recent survey I did on wildlife watchers, I was surprised to find that guides were ranked the lowest as a criteria in selecting a travel destination. While my study was very small, this information causes me some concern. Guides are very important in explaining what is acceptable behavior for travelers so that wildlife and habitats are not harmed. With all the information available to travelers and the steady diet of travel shows with average people seemingly doing amazing things, perhaps people think they can dispense with a guide and strike out on their own.
Other studies support this trend and show an increase in self-guided trips. This creates many concerns including the difficulty in educating travelers on responsible travel practices and in engaging them in the environment in a meaningful way. Accreditation can be a great way to ensure guiding consistency, but maybe we need to give some thought as to how we can market guide services so people are getting the orientation we want them to.
If you want to see more results from my survey on wildlife tourism it is available at no cost in my latest newsletter online http://www.kalahari-online.com/sum07.pdf