Earlier this month, the National Trust announced the launch of a large-scale sustainability and capacity study at the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site and Carrick-a-rede. It is hoped that this study will be industry defining, helping to set best practice for the management of World Heritage Sites and visitor attractions across the globe.
This new study has been inspired by the phenomenal increase in visitors to our Causeway Coast in recent years. Visitor figures to the Giant’s Causeway WHS have increased from 600,000 per year in 2012 to over 1 million by 2017 – a number which continues to climb. Factors such as the success of HBO’s Game of Thrones have driven this huge increase in visitors – but it isn’t all plain sailing. As visitor numbers increase so too does the strain on the WHS and surrounding areas, and visitor figures are predicted to further increase in coming years. This National Trust Sustainability Study, the first of its kind at a WHS, is designed to analyse the impact of these large numbers of visitors to the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-rede.
The study will examine four key lenses. The physical lens will examine how people use the main sites and the impact of this. The experiential lens will look at why visitors use the sites, while the ecological impact of visitors will also be explored. A socio-cultural lens will investigate the impact of Giant’s Causeway WHS and Carrick-a-rede on the local communities who live nearby, the potential benefits and challenges presented by large numbers of visitors and local tourism.
The study will be ongoing over the next 12 – 18 months and its findings may well inform the management of some of the world’s most important visitor attractions, who are awaiting the findings of this groundbreaking study with close interest.
Members of the local community were invited to share their thoughts and feedback for the purposes of the study at a Public consultation event on 9th May 2019, further public consultations are planned for Autumn 2019.