Tourism route development in Northern Ireland: a tale of two constrasting stories

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


Wall (1997) noted that tourism attractions could be categorized as points, lines or areas. The least researched of these has been lines or routes; the exception being ribbon and linear coastal development where the latter is linked to the 3s tourism product of regions. Trails, or in the case of this paper routes, have a significant contribution to play in a region’s overall tourism product, comprising of varying scale (mega through to short urban walking routes), themes (thematic or general sightseeing), and the extent to which the whole route is viewed as part of the tourist experience, as opposed to only key nodes or sections of the route. This paper presents research undertaken on two medium scale touring routes; one where the experience is general sightseeing where the other has the focus on appeal to visitors interested in religion and pilgrimage. Northern Ireland has matured as a destination over the past decade, and the establishment of these two routeways; the Causeway Coastal Route and St Patrick and Christian Heritage Route are part of wider infrastructural developments ongoing across the country to achieve international standout, and appeal to the overseas visitor. Research was carried out between November 2010 and March 2011 where in-depth interviews were undertaken with 15 key stakeholders involved in the initial discussions, design, development of the routes, and in some cases the daily management of the routes. This paper is in two stages. First, the ‘stories’ of each route are presented as through the conversations with key stakeholders. Second, the ongoing challenges in managing both routes are outlined. What emerged from the conversations with stakeholders was first the need to ensure strategic co-management, second, provide seamless story telling through effective interpretation, and third to ensure wider servicing issues added to an overall positive impact on visitors.
Original languageEnglish
TypeConference paper presented at the International Geographical Union regional meeting
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 8 Nov 2011


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