Managing Interpretation at a UNESCO World Heritage Site: A Supply-Side Perspective of Angkor Wat Temple, Cambodia
Interpretation and its relevance for visitor experiences have been discussed extensively but little attention has been paid to the management of interpretation by multiple stakeholders. UNESCO World Heritage Sites involve a number of different organisations but their interpretation management is not well understood. A lack of good interpretation management may lead to negative effects on heritage properties and people understanding about the heritage. This study aims to examine the structure of interpretation management and to identify the objectives in interpretation from various stakeholder organisations’ perspectives. Other influential factors, for example decision making, are studied. Angkor Wat temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cambodia, is used as a case study. Adopting the social constructivist approach for the current study strengthens the research method and data interpretation. The research takes a supply-side perspective; in-depth interviews were conducted with 22 representatives from UNESCO, the Ministry of Tourism, site management teams, tour guides and tour companies. The findings suggest that interpretation is not yet managed successfully by organisations and tour guides. Tour guides are concerned about their lack of knowledge and language proficiency which impacts on their presentation. In addition, managing a different demand of group tour was found important for interpretation management. Tour guides had less involvement in making a decision about the development of interpretation-related projects. Some conflicts between the tour guides and site managers about decision making were identified. On the other hand, managing interpretation by organisations still requires interpretive facilities and visitor centres to enhance visitors’ experiences at Angkor Wat temple. This research contributes to the literature on interpretation and heritage tourism by identifying different interpretation management by multiple stakeholders. In addition to the academic study, the findings imply that relevant organisations need further improvement of interpretation management and visitor centres at Angkor Wat temple.