2010 TARA – THE TRUST FOR AFRICAN ROCK ART AFRICAN ROCK ART TOUR GUIDE TRAINING MODULE Introduction Africa has the greatest variety and some of the oldest rock art on earth. With a total of between 10 and 20 million images spread across 30 countries, Africa has by far more rock art than any other continent. The importance of rock art as a medium for studying early cultures and beliefs as well as early morality and the development of imagination cannot be overstated.
The art features different techniques and styles and much of it is magnificent and comparable to the work of modern artists of the last 150 years. It is thus irreplaceable. The rock art draws many international researchers and tourists who come to study and see this unique creative rock art heritage done by our ancestors. This contributes significantly to the economy of the country through the fees that the visitors pay at museums and other facilities across the country.
Communities should therefore the lead. Stimulated by the sight of tourists and growing support from government offices, development agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), communities should develop the infrastructure and services required for tourism. This tour guide training module aims at empowering the communities that have rock art sites by providing competent and professional tour guides who in essence are the main representatives of the community to the tourists.
It has been developed by TARA – the Trust for African Rock Art which is a non-governmental organization that aims to conserve and preserve the rock art heritage. TARA – The Trust for African Rock Art Our Mission To create greater global awareness of the importance and endangered state of African rocks art; survey sites; monitor status; be an information resource and archive; and promote and support rock art conservation measures.
TARA is the world’s only organization dedicated to this cultural heritage, and as such it has received support and recognition from the Ford Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation and the National Geographic Society, among others. TARA’s singular contributions have also been widely acclaimed in the scientific and popular media including National Geographic, Time, Natural History, People and the London Times. TARA was founded in 1996 by photographer David Coulson with the support of archaeologist Mary Leakey.
Since 1996, TARA has recorded rock art in over 16 African countries; created an archive of over 80 000 rock art photographs; produced a major illustrated book, “African Rock Art, Paintings and Engravings on Stone”, by David Coulson and Alec Campbell; worked with governments of Niger and Kenya to conserve their rock art; helped to prevent destruction of 10 000year old rock engravings by oil prospectors; hosted an international rock art conference in Nairobi (2004); staged East African rock art awareness exhibitions in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Kampala and Zanzibar; made videos; conducted lecture tours and generally promoted the conservation of African rock art around the world. TARA’s goals are to create a permanent visual archive of Africa’s rock art before it is too late; to share this priceless archive with the world community; and to preserve today’s most threatened rock art sites. DAY 1 Session I 1. 0 Tourism and rock art Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes.
The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people who “travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for more than twenty-four (24) hours and not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited. When we speak of community-based rock art tourism, the most popular image tends to be a rural village far from the beaten path, and for good rea¬son. Examples include Kakapel in western Kenya, Kondoa in central Tanzania amongst many other sites across the continent. Successful community tourism is mutually beneficial for the com¬munities and for the travelers. Independent travelers seeking experiences with communities need numerous resources to help plan their trips hence the need for tour guides. 1. 1 Principles of rock art tourism
Rock art tourism is a responsible travel to traditional/ancient heritage areas that covers the environment and sustains the well being of local people. It covers aspects of tourism that draws upon natural, human-made and cultural environments. Additionally, rock art tourism adds social responsibilities to make travel to heritage areas purposeful and attempts to increase understanding of cultural and natural history of the environment. The local people benefit economically from conservation and the overall goal is to preserve the rock art heritage despite the human pressures of tourism. It is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel.
This means that those who implement and participate in rock art tourism activities should follow the following rock art tourism principles: a. Support conservation of natural resources Mechanisms must be established for revenues and profits generated by a successful rock art tourism enterprise or industry to support conservation efforts. The more local people observe outside interest in their surrounding environments and benefit from the resulting tourism, the more they will commit to preserve the values upon which the tourism is based. Hence the need to promote and encourage the preservation of natural values among local people. b. Environmentally sensitive
Careful consideration must be given to site selection and preparation, carrying capacity and limits of acceptable change, energy production and consumption, water quality and usage, and waste generation and treatment. This aims to support the establishment and enforcement of local regulations and management to control environmental and cultural impacts of tourism on natural ecosystems and indigenous communities. Trained, professional guides are essential to enforce regulations and minimize visitor impacts. In general, the tourism should avoid or minimize environmental impacts on fragile ecosystems and undesirable socio-cultural change imposed by tourism. c. Culturally sensitive
Rock art tourism must be sensitive to the traditions, needs, lifestyles and expectations of local communities. It must generate new and appropriate economic opportunities and benefits, and it must never result in the denigration of local cultural traditions. It should also further the understanding of ancient cultures, technologies and spiritual beliefs in the context of human evolution and adaptation. This involves learning how ancient cultures are adapted to their environment and evolved into their contemporary lifestyle that helps develop an understanding of cultural, economic and political development in the world and how we might improve our personal life and the society in which we live. d. Good business decisions and management
Rock art tourism initiatives need to be creative, attractive, and marketable, with realistic expectations for economic benefit. Thorough and conservative business plans, economic feasibility studies, marketing plans and financial projections are essential. It must be recognized that rock art tourism is at its core a business enterprise with a higher social purpose. It is a customer-oriented, customer-driven business. Rock art tourism should encourage and create opportunities for authentic, meaningful and beneficial cross-cultural interactions between hosts and guests. This is most successful in small groups of well-prepared, inquisitive and conscientious travelers who respect the customs, dignity and privacy of their hosts.
Furthermore, the direct involvement of indigenous people in organizing and leading trips assures an authentic tour with a community-based experience. Local political and economic structures often restrict real social and economic improvement and opportunities for self-determination of local people. Small scale, community-based tourism is one way to circumvent conventional centers of economic and political control which frequently by-pass indigenous people. e. Dedicated educational emphasis Rock art tourism is fundamentally about far more than destination development. The concept is predicated on visitors leaving the destination more cognizant of and sensitive to the conservation and resource management issues than when they arrived.
In fact, this is part of what this kind of tourist is looking for – an interactive and often adventurous learning and entertainment experience that personally exposes them to an intimate cross-section of the destination. Guides should be well studied in their field and skilled in interpreting scientific, historic, cultural or other complex information into interesting and easily understandable terms. Almost without exception, resident guides rather than general trip leaders are preferred. They are the most experienced and knowledgeable guides in their locale. All guides should speak fluent English and often converse in local dialects distinct from their native language.
Rock art should cultivate travelers who welcome the new and unexpected, travelers who accept, with compassion, the deeper and sometimes harsh reality when preconceived illusions of “authentic” cultures and idyllic environments do not meet their expectations, travelers who immerse themselves in customs, traditions and languages to gain a better understanding of themselves and the world. Activity I Group discussion questions to be discussed in supervised presentations. •Discuss five practical efforts that a rock art tour guide can adopt to conserve specific natural resources within a rock art site. •Discuss five measures that a tour guide can consider in order to avoid or minimize specific environmental impacts on fragile ecosystems and undesirable socio-cultural change imposed by tourism. •What are the economic, cultural and political benefits of rock art tourism to the community? Session II 2. 0 Code of conduct for rock art site visitors Rock art is fragile and easily damaged.
You can play an important role conserving rock art sites for future generations. Remember that… 1. Touching rock paintings can cause serious damage – your fingers leave sweat and oil on the rock that cannot later be removed. 2. Putting liquid on paintings causes serious damage – particularly sponging them with water or spraying with drinks. 3. Marking engravings with chalk can make dating them impossible – chalk cannot be removed without liquid and both chalk and liquid damage the rock art. 4. Walking on engravings may leave ugly scars, causing the ground near them to crack or pieces to break off – this damage can never be properly repaired. 5.
View rock art from a distance – so that the soil around them is not eroded. 6. Writing near or over rock art, or making your own pictures, is illegal – and spoils the art for other visitors. Please take away all your litter, even cigarette ends; other visitors are coming and want to see the art, not trash. Rock-art sites and all that you find at them are part of national and world heritage. Please respect the ancient art, and the traditions and requirements of local communities. Finally, do ask permission before taking photographs of local people. 3. 0 The concept of tour guiding As a TARA/Community tour guide, you play an important role in rock art tourism.
You have a responsibility to our visitors and the entire community. Your efforts and your willingness to share your rock art knowledge and enthusiasm help bring tourists to our various rock art sites each year. We expect you to share your experiences about TARA/Community and the rock art sites in general with visitors and to give them a positive impression of our heritage. The tour schedule may vary from time to time depending on the availability of tourists and on anticipated visitor numbers. All guides are required to make a commitment to participate in group tours given during anytime and on short notice as the situation may demand. 3. 1 Professional responsibility
You are a representative of TARA/community. You often establish visitors’ initial impressions of TARA/community and sometimes their only impression. You speak on behalf of TARA/community, so your job is a big one. Both verbal and non-verbal cues paint pictures for visitors as to what TARA/community is like. In general, how you speak, look, and interact with others greatly impacts their first impressions of TARA/community and their perceptions of what a TARA/community tour guide is like. No one guide will be the representative of TARA…there is no “typical” TARA tour guide. All of you bring different personalities, backgrounds, majors, interests, and accomplishments.
The one thing that you all bring to this program is your dedication, commitment, and enthusiasm about African rock art. It is important that you use common sense and courtesy as you become the “face of TARA” while on your tour. We do need to convey to prospective tourists and their entourage that TARA is a warm and welcoming community. Visitors will not necessarily remember what you say but they will always remember how you made them feel. In this position of great influence, please consider how you may be perceived. Be aware of off-hand comments about ways “around the system. ” Consider what messages your timeliness and language use send to visitors.
Your every comment can impact a visitor’s impression of TARA. Think before and while you conduct a tour, greet visitors, and answer questions. Jokes about your dealings with specific with other officials, warnings you give about services, and comments about activities not supported by the organization can leave a negative impression for visitors about TARA, you, and the entire community at large. Just be conscious and aware of your language – both verbal and non-verbal. Be honest, but tactful. Maintain a professional and unbiased attitude toward the organization policies, programs, or activities whether or not you entirely agree with or personally endorse them.
A tour guide or any person representing the organization to the public should offer visitors a fair and unbiased representation of the organization and African hospitality. Your job will be to answer questions about the rock art from an expert’s perspective. Your perspectives are invaluable, but remember that they should be presented within the context of the overall mission of TARA. 3. 2 The major role of tour guides Tour guides provide a tourist led tour of African rock art sites to community visitors. Your job is to give visitors a view of the locality and enthusiastically provide them with information about tourists’ experiences at the rock art site. Tour guides should go beyond statistics and geographical details to show tourists and other visitors the community’s distinct personality and values. Tell stories of your experiences at site, not statistics. •Tour guides do not just talk at the tourists; they interact with them, ask questions, engage visitors, are proactive and ask visitors to ask them questions, and are always a gracious host. Tour guides are aware of their audience. Remember that you are addressing a group of people, so you do need to project your voice to ensure that everyone hears you. If the tour is a small size, tour guides will engage visitors in conversation throughout the tour of the site. Walking backwards while talking is must be avoided.
Walk to predetermined spots on the tour route, stop and gather, and engage. That helps ensure that everyone can see and hear the guide. Activity II The participants are required to simulate the ideal situation by assigning; in turns, various status e. g. tourists 1, 2, 3 etc and a lead guide within the compound and practically perform a simple tour for 15 minutes. After this, they all assemble and evaluate their actions during the exercise, site challenges and how to mitigate them, and propose better ways of handling tourists in view of their capabilities. Session III 3. 3 Guide policies and expectations ?Attendance: As a guide, you make a regular commitment to tour at your designated time.
You MUST be at all of your regularly scheduled tours. You MUST also arrive to give all Special Tours for which are assigned. Because you play such an important role in the management of TARA’s tourist activities, your attendance and your punctuality are essential. Not showing up for your scheduled tour is unacceptable. ?Attire: Since there are no uniforms, you should be conscious of what you wear while interacting with visitors. Wear clothing that is comfortable, but please be conscious of your choice of clothing on the days you give a tour. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. Always wear your nametag and feel free to wear as much TARA apparel as you wish. Weather: We give tours rain or shine. Check the weather before coming and dress accordingly. Visitors will still be excited to see the sites – many have traveled a long distance to visit, so the weather will not impact their desire to learn about African rock art. Should you find yourself on the tour site when an unsafe situation arises (severe weather), seek shelter immediately by heading indoors. ?Attitude: Above all, you are not “selling” TARA. Be friendly and enthusiastic but do not over do it. People realize that everything cannot be perfect here. Share your feelings and be honest, but if you appear to be “selling” the organization, your tour may lack credibility.
At the same time, if you are stressed out or having a bad day, try not to let that set the mood for your tour – check your attitude at the door. ?Training and Meetings: Training is an ongoing process. There will be optional refresher training for those who would like a review after some time. Regular meetings will offer continued training and an opportunity to discuss and share new ideas. Please feel free to contribute your ideas to the process. 4. 0 Communication and customer care 1. Be on time – All guides need to report for their scheduled tours. Arrive at least 1 hour prior to your scheduled tour. It is important, however, that you do not start the tour before the scheduled time. In general, always adhere to proper time management. 2.
Be yourself and be enthusiastic- Share your stories/experiences and the stories/experiences of your friends. These personal touches will make your tour more interesting and more memorable for visitors. Talk about TARA/Community/Tourist interactions, the historic features in the area, the community’s way of life, and your personal experience in the rock art tourism. Share your favorite (and appropriate) moments in your profession. 3. Know the facts – While it is important that you offer your own personal experiences at the community, it is also important that the information you provide to visitors is factual. Remember, in your role you are representing the community and you have a responsibility to present accurate information to visitors.
It is your responsibility to keep up to date on information about the community in by reviewing the information regarding the sites, reading updates posted on the TARA website, and attending scheduled meetings without fail. We also encourage you to read about African rock art quite often. You therefore must always strive to be consistent it the storyline. 4. Be flexible – Visitors often travel a great distance to visit, so your adaptability to different types of weather, sizes of groups, and energy level of visitors is crucial. You should be prepared to give a tour in any weather, for 1 visitor or for 50 visitors. You may be able to conduct your tour while walking with a small tour group but always wait for the group to gather and talk to a larger group all together. 5.
Encourage interactions with visitors – Look at the people you’re speaking with – eye contact can help people understand you and also helps make a connection with visitors. Be attentive to visitors when they ask questions and encourage participation. By doing you will give a clear image of addressing of the group. Try to avoid wearing sunglasses. 6. Help all visitors feel welcome: Helping TARA come alive requires that all visitors to various sites feel comfortable during their entire visit. Your language should send messages of value and respect for the diversity of people with whom you interact. Do not smoke nor be drunk during the tour guiding exercise. 7.
Use appropriate wording and proper grammar – It might not seem important at first, but speaking properly influences the opinions of visitors. This not only applies to grammar, but also colloquialisms and generational tendencies (excessive use of words such as “like” or “um”). Avoid personal questions and begging. Always remember to use a polite language. 8. Be prepared – This means that you should understand how you are going to communicate the rock art site experience to visitors through examples, facts, anecdotes, etc. Know your goals for the tour and what images you are trying to convey. 9. It’s okay to say “I don’t know” – Your role is to speak from your perspective as a current tour guide, not an archaeologist or paleontologist.
It is far better to refer the visitor to an expert than to make up an answer or guess a statistic. 10. Have fun! – Enjoy meeting visitors and sharing your enthusiasm for African rock art. Your energy and excitement will be contagious! Be your usual vibrant, effervescent self. Activity III The participants are required to review the day’s activities, each being given 10 minutes to summarize the important tour guiding techniques learnt and how to implement them. DAY 2 Supervised field work that shall involve a comprehensive simulation exercise. The trainer/trainees to come up with other useful activities during the field work to reinforce the theoretical sessions of day 1.