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National Trust Northern Ireland

National Trust NI Destination Study

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Commissioned in response to growing numbers of visitors to the NI region in recent years, the objective is to enable the National Trust to proactively plan for responsible growth in visitor volume and respond to market changes; while providing a quality visitor experience that accord with the vision of ‘For ever, for everyone’. The goal will be for the National Trust to continue to protect their most valued assets and landscapes; sustainably develop places to support visitor growth; and continue to provide unique visitor experiences that appeal to global and local audiences. A fundamental issue is the imbalance in the distribution of these visitors, which has implications for site management and visitor experience.

Some National Trust sites such as Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre and Carrick‐a‐Rede Rope Bridge have a rapid rise in visitor numbers in the last five years with associated visitor and site management issues. Other sites, such as Florence Court or Castle Ward have significant capacity to absorb visitor numbers but have seen relatively low growth. The study analyses visitor data at a regional and site level, enabling an evidence base to inform recommendations to achieve a better balance of visitors and to address issues of seasonality and regionality. Case studies of visitor management at a destination and site level were considered. Understanding of key issues was further informed by site visits and consultation. A vision was identified which provides a strategic framework for recommendations and an action plan.

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