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Abstract

Interpretive guides play an indispensable role in achieving tourism and sustainability outcomes. Although interpretation theory and best practice principles are supported by literature, they have been primarily developed in Western countries. Little work has been done to evaluate the cross-cultural applicability of using Western-based interpretation in training non-Western interpretive guides. This study evaluates the use of Western-based interpretive competencies in a Japanese training context. The efficacy of the training was assessed using quantitative and qualitative pre- and post-training data from all 42 trainees. Training programs were successful in improving trainees’ perceptions of the importance of links between individual roles and organisational goals, TORE (thematic / organised / relevant / enjoyable) qualities, story development, and reflection. They also improved trainees’ perceptions of their own capacity related to TORE. However, programs did not impact trainees’ ratings of their capacity to use storytelling or to foster reflection in their interpretive tours. These findings suggest that, when informed by the literature and research, Western-based interpretive competencies can successfully equip Japanese interpretive guides to utilise best practice principles to meet interpretive and organisational goals. Improvements, such as practice and reflective opportunities, are suggested for future training. More knowledge and evidence are needed to build a training framework that can help interpretive guides in other non-Western contexts to make use of best practice interpretation in their work.

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