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Effective Interpretation for Heritage Sites

Guide explains something to family groupHow do visitors experience your heritage site? Learn how to plan a memorable visit for them by making measurable improvements and using meaningful interpretation. 


Step 1. What makes you unique?

Decide which engaging, spontaneous and fun experiences bring your destination to life for visitors.


Step 2. Defining your 'Big Idea'

The 'Big Idea' is your core theme. It will link your site's sights and sounds with its meanings and ideas, most often through meaningful and entertaining stories.


Step 3. Auditing and assessing

Interpretation can lose its relevance as audiences change in profile and expectations. Constant assessment is needed to ensure that what is being told remains relevant.


Step 4. Preparing your content

Consider all points on a visitor's interaction with your site: transport links; the core of the visit; as well as pre- and post- visit promotions via print, post and web.


Step 5. Evaluating and monitoring

Regular monitoring will ensure your interpretation continues to be meaningful, relevant and entertaining. Do visitors still feel welcome? Is there a sense of authenticity? Do visitors’ satisfaction levels match their expectations?

Explore Ireland's brand

Colourful fishing boats in harbourYour story and how you interpret it should fit how Ireland is marketed overseas. Explore more about this on Tourism Ireland's website.

What do visitors expect?

Visitors to heritage sites want to engage with a destination through learning, interacting and doing, rather than simply observing.

Authenticity is very important. Visitors particularly value cultural aspects that are supported by the local population.

Accessing events enjoyed by local people and which connect to a local area is integral. This could include:

  • eating local food
  • participating in festivals or arts performances
  • visiting atmospheric towns and villages
  • discovering links with famous people or other aspects of contemporary culture (e.g. locations of movies etc.).