A Heritage Interpretation-Based Itinerary to Enhance Tourist Use of Traditional Rural Buildings
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Developing a Heritage Interpretation-Based Itinerary
- Selection of the starting point of the HII. A specific heritage site which is already considered as a “tourist attraction” must be selected as the starting point of the HII. This stage is crucial because, as stated by Prideaux , “large well-known attractions create visitor interest in an area and may constitute the primary drive for a visit”.
- Analysis of the visitor profile. To develop a HII, the profile of the visitors must be established. Nationality, education, income level, experience and daily budget are the major factors influencing the duration of stay. These factors have an impact on the duration of the stay as it emerges from studies on the length of stay of travelers . Examples of visitors' profiles can be found in several studies on wine tourism where the general characteristics of potential tourists, which included demographic data and behavioral attitudes on the purchase of products, were investigated .
- Choice of the interpretive elements on the basis of the analysis of the visitor’s profile. The heritage site selected as starting point of the HII must provide visitors with a number of interpretive elements (e.g., history, socio-economic context, environmental features, and building techniques) that link it to other TRBs.
- Implementation of an interpretation center which will be located at the heritage site selected as a tourist attraction. The interpretation center will ensure the mediation between visitors and the rural area. At the interpretation center, visitors can gather general information on the area with regard to natural and cultural resources, customs and ways of life of the local community. This phase of the method involves the production of interpretation media to be placed at the interpretation center. The type of interpretation media must be previously selected from among those possible  during the planning phase of the heritage interpretation plan . The contents of the interpretation media must be consistent with the interpretive elements provided by the heritage site selected as a tourist attraction. Other interpretation media should be placed in each TRB included in the itinerary as stopping points on the tour, which provide both information about the site and the “interpretive elements”.
- Implementation of a geographical information system (GIS) to store geographical data and other attributes which characterize the heritage site selected as a tourist catalyst and the TRBs . This kind of system is a useful tool to carry out several relevant analyses: TRBs’ distance from the heritage site selected as a tourist catalyst, TRBs’ mutual distance, characteristics of the viability (e.g., slope and type of road surface), information on the services offered to tourists along the itinerary such as places to taste food products, eat, stay, and where to find picnic areas and other services. In this context, over the years, food and beverages have become the most important components of the tourist experience . By promoting local products, food and tourism represent a significant opportunity for rural diversification [23,24,25] and, therefore, can contribute to achieving one of the objectives of multifunctional agriculture: the socio-economic development of rural areas .
- TRBs connections through the HII. The number of kilometers which visitors are able to travel in a day (about 180/200 km)  should be taken into account in the selection of TRBs’ connections. The perception of geographical distance may be affected by the morphology of the territory (e.g., shape of the paths, winding roads, presence of slopes, shrubs, road signs, and natural landmarks) and any cultural differences between the visitors’ places of origin and the tourist destination . The distance perceived by the tourist is a mental representation of the actual distance formed on the basis of the social, cultural and life experiences of an individual that has the power to increase or decrease the cognition of the cost of transport and has an important role in the choice of a holiday destination [21,27]. If the destination of the trip is particularly attractive to the visitor, the presence of routes in the itinerary where the distance perceived by tourists is greater than the geographical one does not have a dramatic impediment on the carrying out of the tour .
2.2. The Area of Study
2.2.1. Tourist Flows in the Province of Ragusa and Tourist Accommodations
2.2.2. Main Tourism Attractions in the Area under Study
The Baroque Architecture
The Ruins of Kamarina
Wine and Food
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. The Starting Point of the HII
3.2. Analysis of the Visitors’ Profile
3.3. Choice of the Castle's Elements to be Interpreted
3.4. Implementation of the Interpretation Center Located in the Donnafugata Castle
3.4.1. The Didactic Graphic Panel of the Donnafugata Castle
3.4.2. Didactic Graphical Panels of the Stopping Points
3.5. Implementation of the Geographical Information System (GIS)
|Information on Buildings’ External and Internal Architectural Features|
|Buildings’ current use|
|Buildings’ visibility from the main roads|
|Buildings’ conservation state|
|Buildings’ location in relation to soil morphology|
|Buildings’ bodily configuration|
|Buildings’ number of floors|
|Buildings’ number of free façades|
|Fair-faced stonework of the façades|
|Surface finished of the façades|
|Elements of façades demarcation|
|Geometrical characteristics of the openings|
|Roof’s shape and gutter’s position|
|Type||AS and F Total|
|Bed & Breakfast (F)||7|
|Picnic area (AS)||11|
|Swimming pool (AS)||5|
|Play ground and services for children (AS)||2|
|Sports facilities (AS)||11|
|Local products tasting (AS)||9|
|Free use of kitchen (AS)||5|
|Wi-Fi service (AS)||4|
|Tourist guide service (AS)||5|
|Pet allowed (AS)||6|
3.6. TRBs Connections through the HII
- During the planning of a HII, the quality of the roads is crucial along with panoramic views, the presence of traffic signals  and services at tourist stops . However, in the examined rural area, the illumination of the roads should be improved in order to improve visibility and road safety and, in turn, broaden the type of means of transport that can be used by tourists.
- The number of HII connections could be enlarged by taking into account judgments of preference expressed by tourists and residents on main and secondary roads currently present in the area under consideration. This may be implemented through the use of questionnaires, by conducting interviews and showing photographs for the assessment of the quality of natural and cultural resources found along the main and secondary roads [36,37]. The number of connections of the HII could be further expanded through the building of new paths. To this end, it is necessary to analyze the ground morphology and calculate suitable indicators  which permit the choice of the most appropriate means of transport by quantifying the degree of difficulty of the covered distance.
- The availability of tour guides at the selected heritage site is crucial because they act as intermediaries between tourists and an unfamiliar environment, thus playing an important role in the success or failure of a tour experience and influencing tourists’ perceptions of the host destination . For this reason, there are many studies on how to improve the work of tourist guides [39,40,41,42], on the different roles and functions that a tour guide can take on , such as the role of cultural mediator  and as “cultural heritage interpreters” . The quality of the service offered by the tour guide can be measured by importance performance analysis (IPA) models  and improved by studies on emotional intelligence , which is universally recognized as a means to achieve success in personal and professional fields .
- In this study, the tourist profile was investigated before the trip (for planning the tourist itinerary), and it would be advisable to review it when tourists make their first evaluations (i.e., during the itinerary) as well as at the end of the tour when they make the final assessments and are better able to gauge their future preferences . The final assessment of the HII may be carried out by means of questionnaires or interviews and investigate the socio-economic characteristics of the tourists, the value of the tourism service (benefits gained and costs), the quality of the tourist services (analysis of the characteristics of a service capable of meeting visitors’ needs), the degree of tourist satisfaction (perceived performance compared to expectations) [43,44,45,46,47,48], the relationship between reasons for the visit and the degree of satisfaction , and the relationship between service quality and satisfaction .
- The promotion of the HII must be done through the cooperation between public and private partners and the direct involvement of the local community . Better advertising in magazines, newspapers, internet and in hotels and tourist development agencies may attract more visitors during the year and adjust the seasonal flow of tourists. The sponsorship of the tour will occur during the events that take place at the Donnafugata Castle (Cheese art event called “Night Castle”, concerts, theater performances and painting and sculpture exhibitions).
Conflicts of Interest
- Meyer, D. Tourism Route and Gateways: Key Issues for the Development of the Tourism Route and Gateway and Their Potential for Pro-Poor Tourism; Overseas Development Institute: London, UK, 2004. [Google Scholar]
- Sharpley, R. Rural tourism and the challenge of tourism diversification: The case of Cyprus. Tour. Manag. 2002, 23, 233–244. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Garau, C. Perspectives on Cultural and Sustainable Rural Tourism in a Smart Region: The Case Study of Marmilla in Sardinia (Italy). Sustainability 2015, 7, 6412–6434. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Trukhachev, A. Methodology for Evaluating the Rural Tourism Potentials: A Tool to Ensure Sustainable Development of Rural Settlements. Sustainability 2015, 7, 3052–3070. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Bruwer, J. South African wine routes: Some perspectives on the wine tourism industry’s structural dimensions and wine tourism product. Tour. Manag. 2003, 24, 423–435. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Antonson, H.; Steen Jacobsen, J.K. Tourism development strategy or just brown signage? Comparing road administration policies and designation procedures for official tourism routes in two Scandinavian countries. Land Use Policy 2014, 36, 342–350. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- ICOMOS. Charter for the interpretation and presentation of cultural heritage site. In Proceedings of the 16th General Assembly of ICOMOS, Québec, QC, Canada, 4 October 2008.
- Tilden, F. Interpreting Our Heritage; University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC, USA, 1977. [Google Scholar]
- Papathanassiou-Zuhrt, D.; Karipis, K.; Doumi, M.; Sakellaridis, O. Applying the interpretive planning process to promote local heritage in peripheral areas: Serving the visitor in the Highlands of Nafpaktia, Greece. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Advances in Tourism Economics, Vila Nova de Sto André, Portugal, 13–14 April 2007.
- Copeland, T.; Delmaire, Y. Heritage Intepretation in the Framework of the European Heritage Days; Report of the Training Course 2003 for European Heritage Days Coordinators; Council of Europe: Strasbourg, France, 2004. [Google Scholar]
- Carter, J. A Sense of Place. An Interpretive Planning Handbook, 1st ed.; Tourism and Environment Initiative: Inverness, UK, 1997. [Google Scholar]
- Veverka, J. Interpretive Master Planning; Falcon Press: La Habra, CA, USA, 1998. [Google Scholar]
- De Montis, A.; Ledda, A.; Ganciu, A.; Serra, V.; de Montis, S. Recovery of rural centres and “albergo diffuso”: A case study inSardinia, Italy. Land Use Policy 2015, 47, 12–28. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Porto, S.M.C.; Cascone, G. Indicatori per la valutazione della potenzialità turistico-ricettiva di edifici rurali tradizionali. J. Agric. Eng. 2008, 4, 43–56. (In Italian) [Google Scholar]
- Gutierrez Rodriguez, L.; Ruiz Perez, M.; Yang, X.; Geriletu. From Farm to Rural Hostel: New Opportunities and Challenges Associated with Tourism Expansion in Daxi, a Village in Anji County, Zhejiang, China. Sustainability 2011, 3, 306–321. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Fuentes, J.M.; Gallego, E.; García, A.I.; Ayuga, F. New uses for old traditional farm buildings: The case of the underground wine cellars in Spain. Land Use Policy 2010, 27, 738–748. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Porto, S.M.C.; Cascone, G. A building characterization-based method for the advancement of knowledge on external architectural features of traditional rural buildings. Inf. Constr. 2013, 65, 481–496. [Google Scholar]
- Briedenhann, J.; Wickens, E. Tourism routes as a tool for the economic development of rural areas-vibrant hope or impossible dream? Tour. Manag. 2004, 25, 71–79. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Meyer-Cech, K. Regional Cooperation in Rural Tourism Trails. In Rural Tourism and Sustainable Business; Hall, D., Kirkpatrick, I., Mitchell, M., Eds.; Channel View Publications: Clevedon, UK, 2005; pp. 137–148. [Google Scholar]
- Porto, S.M.C.; Leanza, P.M.; Cascone, G. Developing Interpretation Plans to Promote Traditional Rural Buildings as Built Heritage Attractions. Int. J. Tour. Res. 2012, 14, 421–436. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Prideaux, B. Creating rural heritage visitor attractions—The Queensland heritage trails project. Int. J. Tour. Res. 2002, 4, 313–323. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Gokovali, U.; Bahar, O.; Kozak, M. Determinants of length of stay: A practical use of survival analysis. Tour. Manag. 2007, 28, 736–746. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Jaffe, E.; Pasternak, H. Developing Wine Trails as a Tourist Attraction in Israel. Int. J. Tour. Res. 2004, 6, 237–249. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Josiam, B.M.; Mattson, M.; Sullivan, P. The Historaunt: Heritage tourism at Mickey’s Dining Car. Tour. Manag. 2004, 25, 453–461. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Plummer, R.; Telfer, D.; Hashimoto, A.; Summers, R. Beer tourism in Canada along the Waterloo–Wellington Ale Trail. Tour. Manag. 2005, 26, 447–458. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Yang, Z.; Cai, J.; Sliuzas, R. Agro-tourism enterprises as a form of multi-functional urban agriculture for peri-urban development in China. Habitat Int. 2010, 34, 374–385. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Ankomah, P.K.; Crompton, J.L.; Baker, D. Influenze of cognitive distance in vacation choice. Ann. Tour. Res. 1996, 23, 138–150. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Getz, D.; Brown, G. Critical success factors for wine tourism regions: A demand analysis. Tour. Manag. 2006, 27, 146–158. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Leone, G. Donnafugata Il Castello; Filippo Angelica Editore: Siracusa, Italy, 2006. [Google Scholar]
- Anselmi, G.F.; Arezzo di Trifiletti, G.; Vella, C.; Turco, T. Il Castello di Donnafugata a Ragusa; Edizioni Kalós: Palermo, Italy, 2002. [Google Scholar]
- Ingallinera, F. Castello Donnafugata dall'alto. Available online: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/4129944 (accessed on 17 December 2015).
- Curtis, E. Interpretive Project Guide Book; U.S.D.A. Forest Service: Portland, Italy, 1994.
- Izquierdo-Tugas, P.; Tresserras, J.J.; Matamala-Mellini, J.C. Heritage Interpretation Centres. The HICIRA Handbook; Institut d’Edicions de la Diputació de Barcelona: Diputació de Barcelona, Spain, 2005. [Google Scholar]
- Lew, A.; McKercher, B. Trip destinations, gateways and itineraries: The example of Hong Kong. Tour. Manag. 2002, 23, 609–621. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Lew, A.; McKercher, B. Modeling tourist movements: A Local Destination Analysis. Ann. Tour. Res. 2006, 33, 403–423. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Kent, R.L.; Elliott, C.L. Scenic ruotes linking and protecting natural and cultural landscape features: A greenway skeleton. Landsc. Urban Plan. 1995, 33, 341–355. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Ramírez, Á.; Ayuga-Téllez, E.; Gallego, E.; Fuentes, J.M.; García, A.I. A simplified model to assess landscape quality from rural roads in Spain. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 2011, 142, 205–212. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Clius, M.; Teleucă, A.; David, O.; Moroşanu, A. Trail accessibility as a tool for sustainable management of protected areas: Case study Ceahlău National Park, Romania. Procedia Environ. Sci. 2012, 14, 267–278. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Min, J.C.H. A short-form measure for assessment of emotional intelligence for tour guides: Development and evaluation. Tour. Manag. 2012, 33, 155–167. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Rabotić, B. Tourist Guides as Cultural Heritage Interpreters: Belgrade Experience with Municipality-sponsored Guided Walks for Local Residents. In Proceedings of the Cultural and Event Tourism: Issues & Debates, Alanya, Turkey, 5–9 November 2008; pp. 213–233.
- Yu, X.; Weiler, B.; Ham, S. Cultural Mediation in Guided Tour Experiences: A Case Study of Australian Guides of Chinese Tour Groups; Monash University: Melbourne, Australia, 2004; Volume 44, p. 12. [Google Scholar]
- Zhang, H.Q.; Chow, I. Application of importance-performance model in tour guides’ performance: Evidence from mainland Chinese outbound visitors in Hong Kong. Tour. Manag. 2004, 25, 81–91. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Chen, C.-F.; Tsai, D. How destination image and evaluative factors affect behavioral intentions? Tour. Manag. 2007, 28, 1115–1122. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Chen, C.-F.; Chen, F.-S. Experience quality, perceived value, satisfaction and behavioral intentions for heritage tourists. Tour. Manag. 2010, 31, 29–35. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- De Rojas, C.; Camarero, C. Visitors’ experience, mood and satisfaction in a heritage context: Evidence from an interpretation center. Tour. Manag. 2008, 29, 525–537. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Denstadli, J.M.; Jacobsen, J.K.S. The long and winding roads: Perceived quality of scenic tourism routes. Tour. Manag. 2011, 32, 780–788. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Murphy, P.; Pritchard, M.P.; Smith, B. The destination product and its impact on traveller perceptions. Tour. Manag. 2000, 21, 43–52. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Nowacki, M.M. Quality of Visitor Attractions, Satisfaction, Benefits and Behavioural Intentions of Visitors: Verification of a Model. Int. J. Tour. Res. 2009, 11, 297–309. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Devesa, M.; Laguna, M.; Palacios, A. The role of motivation in visitor satisfaction: Empirical evidence in rural tourism. Tour. Manag. 2010, 31, 547–552. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Hernández Maestro, R.M.; Muñoz Gallego, P.A.; Requejo, L.S. The moderating role of familiarity in rural tourism in Spain. Tour. Manag. 2007, 28, 951–964. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
© 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Leanza, P.M.; Porto, S.M.C.; Sapienza, V.; Cascone, S.M. A Heritage Interpretation-Based Itinerary to Enhance Tourist Use of Traditional Rural Buildings. Sustainability 2016, 8, 47. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8010047
Leanza PM, Porto SMC, Sapienza V, Cascone SM. A Heritage Interpretation-Based Itinerary to Enhance Tourist Use of Traditional Rural Buildings. Sustainability. 2016; 8(1):47. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8010047Chicago/Turabian Style
Leanza, Paola M., Simona M. C. Porto, Vincenzo Sapienza, and Santi M. Cascone. 2016. "A Heritage Interpretation-Based Itinerary to Enhance Tourist Use of Traditional Rural Buildings" Sustainability 8, no. 1: 47. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8010047