The National Trust today announced the launch of a major, industry defining sustainability study to better understand the impact on and opportunities for the local community of increased visitor numbers to the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede.
Heather McLachlan Regional Director of the National Trust in Northern Ireland said, “Last year both local and global visitors to the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick a Rede reached over 1.5m and with the continued fast paced growth of tourism to Northern Ireland these numbers are expected to increase. A collaborative approach is key to examining how visitor numbers are impacting on the local community. It is only by deepening our understanding of our sites, how and why people interact with them, that we as a conversation charity can ensure that they are well cared for, for generations to come.
“We are really excited about launching this study, as far as we are aware, it is the first time a World Heritage Site has undertaken a project of this scale which will focus on examining physical spaces, the environment, how visitors feel about their visits to these places and how we can work as good neighbours. The difference in what has gone before is that we are examining all of these factors at one time and collating the data, sharing it with the local community and asking them to actively participate in creating a sustainable future for the site. To give people a chance to find out more, a community drop in session will take place on Thursday 9 May from 1.00pm – 7.00pm at the Causeway Hotel. This is for anyone who would like to find out more about the study to come along, ask questions and meet the team delivering the project.”
The phenomenal and fast-paced growth of tourism to Northern Ireland has inspired this study which will examine four keys lenses including the physical lens which will predominantly examine how people use the sites; the experiential lens which will seek to examine why people are visiting the sites; the environmental lens which will look at the sites in terms of their habitats and the socio-cultural lens which will examine how tourism can benefit local communities and what may need to be done to support these communities.
It is expected the study will take place over the next 12-18 months which will see the National Trust work in partnership with ARUP, a renowned international firm of designers and technical experts who will examine the physical, environmental and visitor experience aspects of the sites. Tourism and community experts, Cillian Murphy and Matt Scrimgeour will lead on the socio-cultural lens of the project and will act as the voice of the community into the project.