The heritage tourist: an understanding of the visitor experience at heritage attractions

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This study seeks to explore the visitor experience at heritage sites pre, during and post visit. A conceptual model depicting the heritage visitor experience was proposed. A self-administered survey (n = 195) was completed by visitors at six heritage sites across Northern Ireland. Visitor characteristics and pre-experience were analysed and results showed that heritage visitors are primarily motivated by recreation and base their visitation decision on advice from friends and family. Results from the exploratory factor analysis showed that audio and visual communication, atmospherics, on-site engagement, information and heritage preservation were the most influential factors during a visit. Post-experience results indicate that 54% of the sample was satisfied with their visit and 85% would revisit the heritage site. The final model suggests a range of factors which positively contribute to the visitor experience at heritage sites though this requires further testing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-392
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished online - 26 Jan 2017


  • Heritage tourism
  • visitor experience
  • tourist motivation
  • decision-making
  • satisfaction

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