Interpretation at Maltese World Heritage sites: Tensions between site authenticity and meeting diverse visitor needs

Katie Evans and Phillippa Gatehouse 
Department of Geography, Oxford Brookes University
November 2018


With increasing globalisation and ease of transport to heritage sites across the globe, interpretation management is faced with conflicting agendas. These include meeting the needs of a wider public, maintaining a high level of site authenticity and an authentic visitor experience, whilst preserving cultural values to be passed onto future generations. In depth interviews were used to provide a rich and deep data set and were carried out over three UNESCO World Heritage megalithic temples situated in Malta. The results show how previous experiences and individuality affected the way that the site was experienced by the visitor. Each interpretation method was viewed differently by each individual, with each person viewing the term ‘authentic experience’ subjectively. The paper concludes that interpretation can both enhance and detract from visitors’ experiences of site authenticity. In the future it is suggested that more research should be carried out regarding the use of unobtrusive technology at World Heritage Sites in order to achieve maximum visitor satisfaction, whilst preventing the degradation of site authenticity.


heritage, interpretation, authenticity, Malta, visitor needs

Interpretation at Maltese World Heritage Sites: tensions between site authenticity and meeting diverse visitor needs by Katie Evans and Phillippa Gatehouse is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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Based on a work at

Original Papers - Geoverse
ISSN 1758-3411
Editor-in-Chief: Professor Helen Walkington