Now that I have identified my top picks, where do I go from here?
You will want to begin creating a script or storyline that puts your story into context. This is called interpretation. In its simplest definition, interpretation tells true and compelling stories of places, people, and events.

What is interpretation for tourism?
According to the National Park Service, interpretation facilitates a connection between the interests of the visitor and the meaning of the resource.

National Association for Interpretation says interpretation is communication process forges emotional and intellectual connections between the interests of the audience and the meanings in the resource.

Is interpretation educational? Yes!

Is interpretation similar to school? No, the audience is not captive – they do not have to be in your audience, and they will leave if you are boring.

Effective interpretation is:

  • Pleasurable: People participate in cultural and heritage tourism for pleasure. Certainly, this can involve learning, but it must be enjoyable.
  • Relevant: People are interested in things that they care about – themselves, their place, their peoples’ history, their concerns, etc. Effective interpretation builds on these interests.
  • Organized: Most tourists do not want to work very hard to gain benefit from their visits. Make it easy for them to understand and appreciate what you are trying to convey. This is best done by carefully organizing the interpretative programs so the visitor knows “where they are going.”
  • Thematic: People respond to stories and concepts better than “just the facts.” They remember general ideas and incorporate them into how they think and act. To effectively engage the audiences, interpretation must have a clear story line.

Principles of interpretation:

  • Relate what is being displayed or described to something within the personality or experience of the visitor.
  • Information alone is not interpretation. Information is essential to good interpretation but it should not stop there.
  • Good interpretation is an art.
  • The primary aim of interpretation is not instruction, but provocation.
  • Interpretation should aim to present a whole rather than a part.
  • Interpretation addressed to children should not be a diluted version of the adult version, but should follow a fundamentally different approach.

Adapted from
Texas State University’s Dept. of Geography Developing Interpretation