Expectations and Experiences of Visitors at the Giant's Causeway World Heritage Site, Northern Ireland

Crawford, Kevin (2015) Expectations and Experiences of Visitors at the Giant's Causeway World Heritage Site, Northern Ireland. In: World Heritage, Tourism and Identity. Ashgate, pp. 187-198. ISBN http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409470588

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Abstract

This chapter presents and discusses the results of a survey on visitors’ expectations and experiences of a key geological heritage site in the UK; the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast World Heritage Site, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The survey sought to determine the opinions on the on-site interpretation (until 2012) to gauge whether this has an influence on visitor understanding and overall experience of the site. Given the gap in heritage tourism literature pertaining to geological heritage sites and the paucity of information on tourists’ expectation of interpretation at such sites, the findings presented in this chapter may help to reduce the gap and add to the research in the area of geological heritage interpretation. The survey results revealed that the on-site interpretation (until 2012) did not seem to fully meet the needs and expectations of the visitors and that it was in need of some updating. More interpretation in the form of boards, leaflets or audio guides that highlight, locate, and describe the key features of the site, or provide more information highlighting the significance of the Giant’s Causeway and its designation as a geological World Heritage Site, would meet the basic informational needs of the visitors. The survey also indicates that a key requirement would be to provide more human interaction. Provision of on-site rangers/guides was considered by the visitors to be a good way of improving their experience. Having rangers available to answer questions, give guidance on what to see/visit on the site, or to give guided walks would greatly improve the their understanding and experience of the site. Other ways to improve the visitor experience are suggested in addition to highlighting improvements that could be made to the on-site interpretation. The outcomes from the survey also have some implications for management of the World Heritage Site. The popularity of the site as a tourist attraction, with over 750,000 people visiting each year, presents significant challenges in being able to deliver a high quality visitor experience without compromising the conservation of the site.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: "Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site visitor experience interpretation geotourism "
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Geography and Environmental Science
Depositing User: Mary Rice
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2016 11:22
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2016 11:22
URI: http://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/671

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