Low versus high intensity approaches to interpretative tourism planning: the case of the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Noel Healy, Carena van Riper, Stephen Boyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


In recent decades, investments in tourism capital and the advancement of media technologies havetransformed the construction and consumption of tourism destinations. Using the $45 million Cliffs of Moher (CoM) visitor center in the west of Ireland as a case study, this paper investigates a central debate in interpretive planning: how the intensity of multimedia applications and onsite facilities shapes visitor experiences in natural area destinations. Drawing from onsite surveys, semi-structured interviews and participant observations, as well as comparative evaluations of the former and current visitor centers,results indicated that low-intensity interpretation was preferred to high-intensity, technologically driven displays. This paper challenges the dominant producer-oriented development paradigm for visitor centers where the architectural design is often the focus of attention. Instead, the authors argue for greater emphasis to be placed on interpretation that incorporates the perspectives of visitors and residents throughout all phases of the planning process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-583
JournalTourism Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016



  • interpretation
  • visitor centers
  • nature-based experiences
  • visitor management

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