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Links between tourists, heritage, and reasons for visiting heritage sites

Butler, Richard and Airey, David and Poria, Yaniv (2004) Links between tourists, heritage, and reasons for visiting heritage sites. Journal of Travel Research, 43 (1). pp. 19-28. ISSN 0047-2875

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Abstract

This article clarifies heritage tourism by identifying and segmenting reasons for visiting heritage sites. In doing so, it shows that the links between a site's attributes and the tourists themselves are essential to understanding tourists' motivations to visit heritage places. The sample was composed of English-speaking international tourists leaving Israel through Ben-Gurion airport. The research was implemented by the use of structured questionnaires using face-to-face interviews. Responses were grouped using an interpretability approach to exploratory factor analysis. Reasons for visiting heritage sites were classified into three groups: 'heritage experience,' 'learning experience,' and 'recreational experience.' Reasons for visiting heritage sites were linked to the tourists' perception of the site in relation to their own heritage and their willingness to be exposed to an emotional experience. The results lead to a better understanding of reasons for visiting heritage places and provide further insight into heritage tourism in general. The findings are relevant to the operational management of spaces presenting history-related artifacts and to the marketing of these sites.