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Blands Travel February, 23 2017

Blands Travel Gibraltar becomes the first tour operator to take part in Monkey Talks Macaque Familiarisation Outings

With sustainable tourism a key priority, Blands Travel Gibraltar became the first tour operator to round up a group of licensed guides and take part in Monkey Talk’s Macaque Familiarisation Outings. 

The educational outings were officially launched recently by the Department for the Environment and Climate Change (DECC) as part of the long term strategy for Gibraltar’s Barbary Macaques and provide a wealth of knowledge in a bid to help guides develop a new, non-intrusive approach when showcasing the macaques. The outings are conducted by local Macaque enthusiast, Brian Gomila (MRes in Primatology) and further endorsed by the Gibraltar Tourist Board (GTB).

Our team of tour guides had the unique opportunity to observe and spend time with the macaques away from other tourists in the last 2 hours of daylight, when they are more relaxed. Engaged from the outset, our tour guides were quick to get to know about another side to the macaques and were further educated about their social organisation, behavioural gestures and also about the way the macaques interpret and respond to our own behaviours. At the end of the familiarisation outing each of our tour guides proudly accepted an official certificate of participation. Blands Travel will now be encouraging the rest of its tour guides to sign up for the outings. For those that participated, the increased knowledge has already proved to be very useful, enabling our guides to better-inform their audience and educate them to observe the macaques in a non-intrusive way.

Nuria Saccone, Head of Destination Services at Blands Travel said “it is important that we are educated about the macaques. They are arguably Gibraltar’s single most important tourist attraction and are synonymous with The Rock. Undertaking the familiarisation outing allows us to provide an educational and valuable tourist experience for all our guests whilst respecting their natural habitat. Brian’s knowledge and unique insight will prove to be an asset to Blands Travel’s Macaque Tourist Product and will ensure we all enjoy the macaques responsibly hereon”. Brian Gomila added that “it is imperative that our guides become conversant on the macaques. One cannot talk about the macaques in the same way as you would about a historic monument. The macaques are habituated to humans and are dynamic animals and so it pays off for guides to be able to interpret their behaviours as and when displayed in order to be able to captivate their audience and provide a safe and educational experience”.

It is expected that the educational outings will mark the start of official and continuous training offered to guides on the macaques with macaque workshops planned for the future as the DECC and the GTB strive to improve and modernise Gibraltar’s Macaque Tourist Product.

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