TellTale developed and wrote the National Framework for Tourism Interpretation in Ireland’s National Parks and six individual Frameworks. For this ambitious and far-reaching project we were pleased to team up with SLR, who provided an array of logistic and operation planning work that underpinned the interpretive vision and wrote an impressive Masterplan. The client was the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service. The project was supported by Fáilte Ireland (the Irish Tourism Development Authority).
Ireland’s six UNESCO Category 2 National Parks are run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service
Tourism Interpretation: linking conservation and local economy
This project was an important opportunity to show how creating great experiences of wild places can serve both conservation and the local economic regeneration goals. Experience of nature is a cornerstone of environmental understanding. It is equally important in contemporary tourism where the focus is very much in creating memorable and meaningful experiences that relate to a place and its people. Our long experience of interpretive planning, much of it at landscape scale, meant we could rise to the challenge of demonstrating exactly how ‘tourism interpretation’ could work in the National Parks.
‘Tourism Interpretation’ is a new term and we feel it is a good one. It harnesses tourism’s consumer focus and interpretation’s emphasis on first hand experience of a place. This is a powerful combination that is vital for attracting and satisfying today’s cultural tourists.
This project enabled us to show how interpretive themes and place-based activities combine to create meaningful experiences that resonate with visitors.
Once again, we could demonstrate the commercial impact of interpretive planning in the tourism context .
We invented the jug diagram to demonstrate how interpretive themes and activities can be combined. Not all of the ingredients of each jug can be used in a single project but successful heritage tourism products will draw on both jugs.
Interpretive themes – getting people thinking and talking
Structured thematic planning provided the backbone of our interpretative approach. In both national and local workshops we encouraged National Park staff to think hard about what they want ‘people to think and talk about’. Together, we created themes that evoked the National Parks and their place in Ireland’s history and identity at both national and individual National Park levels.
We held lively participative workshops in each of the National Parks and ran two national workshops.
This project focused on international visitors. That led to specific guidelines on the the use of international languages, on Global English and how to address gaps in what would be assumed knowledge for Irish visitors. We have been working on this for some years, stimulated in particular by our mentoring work for Fáilte Ireland.
Advice on interpretation for international audiences formed part of the ‘Sharing the Wild Heart of Ireland: Interpretation Guidelines for Ireland’s National Parks‘ that we wrote to help National Parks staff deliver high quality, fit-for purpose interpretation. This is a partner publication to the Toolkit for Storytelling Interpretation we produced for Ireland’s Ancient East and which these Guidelines reference. The National Park Guidelines emphasise interpreting natural heritage rather than human heritage.