Blands Travel Gibraltar last month 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 launched by the Department for the Environment and Climate Change (DECC) as part of the long term strategy for Gibraltar’s Barbary Macaques.

“It is important that we are educated about the macaques,” said Nuria Saccone, Head of Destination Services at Blands Travel. “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 Gomila, a local Macaque enthusiast who conducts the outings, said it was imperative that Gibraltar’s guides became conversant on the macaques.

“One cannot talk about the macaques in the same way as you would about a historic monument,” he said. “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.”

A spokesman for Blands said it was expected that the educational outings will mark the start of official and continuous training offered to guides on the macaques.
“Macaque workshops planned for the future as the DECC and the GTB strive to improve and modernise Gibraltar’s Macaque Tourist Product,” the spokesman said.