To re-enact or not to re-enact? Investigating the impacts of first- and third-person interpretation at a heritage tourism site

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the impacts of first-person street theatre reenactments versus third-person interpretation at a recreated 1850s gold-rush heritage tourism site. Data collected from 357 visitors following 7 different interpretive activities indicated that third-person interpretation produced significantly higher mean respondent ratings than those activities that used first-person interpretation on 6 of 10 cognitive, affective, and behavioral indicators. Further scrutiny revealed that third-person interpretation resulted in higher levels of cognitive and affective outcomes for some visitor audiences when compared to first-person interpretation, but that there was no difference between first- and third-person interpretation on most behavioral outcomes. Both types of interpretation may be needed in order to achieve a full range of visitor outcomes. A multivariate analysis of covariance illustrated the potential implication of activity length in determining visitor outcomes; that is, the longer the activity, the greater impact of interpretation on measured outcomes. Isolating the effect of type of interpretation versus duration requires further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48 - 61
Number of pages14
JournalVisitor Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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