Isolating the role of on-site interpretation in a satisfying experience

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Publication details

Ham, SH & Weiler, B 2007, 'Isolating the role of on-site interpretation in a satisfying experience', Journal of Interpretation Research, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 5-24.

Peer Reviewed



The role of interpretation in tourist experience is widely acknowledged. However, little research has been conducted to directly document or precisely quantify the influence that the interpretive dimensions of experience have on tourist satisfaction. A purpose of this study was to determine whether these dimensions could be isolated and quantified in the experiences of 727 national and international tourists in the Panama Canal Watershed (PCW). Results revealed that the global satisfaction of PCW tourists was due primarily to their satisfaction with the interpretive dimensions of their visit, as opposed to other services and setting attributes. Respondents' satisfaction with five interpretive services correlated more highly with a global satisfaction measure than did any of six non-interpretive services and explained nearly half the variance in global satisfaction. Respondents' satisfaction with non-interpretive services explained only 23% of the variance. These findings suggest that the interpretive dimensions of tourist experience can exert a positive influence on global satisfaction. This relationship was especially strong for visitors traveling as part of a guided tour. Factor and reliability analyses confirmed validation of a single "interpretive satisfaction" construct, providing evidence that an interpretive dimension of tourist satisfaction can be empirically isolated. Practical implications and suggestions for further research are offered.

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