Volunteering

After a while of travelling back and forth between Denmark and the UK, I have now finally joined the Meet and Greet volunteers at Pont-ar-Daf, the main access point to Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. This area is owned by the National Trust and it is for them that I will be volunteering, helping walkers find their way, stay safe and enjoy their visit to the highest point in the South of the UK.

Pen y Fan is 886, so a few feet short of a mountain, but along with Corn Du at 873, and other big iconic hills, offers stunning views of the beautiful Welsh landscape at its feet.

P1020750.JPG

The National Trust are doing a massive amount of work maintaining the trails, preventing trail widening and erosion. Each year, tonnes of local rock is airlifted in, and laid by hand by volunteers and staff, making sure that these beautiful areas don’t crumble under the weight of the footfall. For this reason, Meet and Greet volunteers also collect donations and sell postcards and books from the small info shack at Pont-ar-Daf.

I will be going there again this afternoon, and look forward to meeting a couple of the other volunteers, and to engage with the public who come from all over the world. Today, probably we will have more visitors than Tuesday, when there was sideways rain and low-hanging cloud.

These pictures are from the end of August but the area is beautiful all year round. Normally the temperature is 10 degrees less at the top, and it can be quite windy, so remember good boots, a jacket – and check the local forecast.

See you there?

P1020751.JPG

Advertisements

Experience-scapes

Hird & Kvistgaard wrote “Oplevelsesrum. Turisme, kulturarv og oplevelser – et krydsfelt” in 2010. Sadly, this book has never been translated into English but with permission from the authors, I will share a few of the main ideas from this excellent book with you.

Based on a phenomenological approach, Hird and Kvistgaard present their tool “Experience Matrices”, which combine Heritage, Tourism and Experiences into an Experience-scape. Heritage, the authors explain, provides the content,  experiences the means through which the intersecting experience-scape is sold in the marketplace: tourism.

As a method, Experience Matrices involve stakeholders in a process of rediscovering a particular area, destination or attraction with the intention of creating a set of values, characteristics and understandings for which these stakeholders have a high sense of ownership, so that those elements from the process are selected for which participants feel motivated and enthused.

The process starts with facilitators identifying the stakeholders to invite. This is based on a preconception of the site. Next, participants are given an understanding of the method, before they are invited to experience and interpret the area with brand new eyes, even in the case of a site which is very familiar to them. The observations collected are sorted and analysed by the facilitators, who end up with one or more sets of values, syntheses or representations of participants’ evaluation of sensory strengths of the site. These results are then fed back to stakeholders, while remaining very open to how these results are received. Questions are asked and answered, and ownership and enthusiasm are very important goals. Context and meaning,  part and the whole are constantly compared and adjusted, until alignment is reached, which ensures quality. Based on these final definitions, socially constructed and hermeneutically tested, the site is then strengthened through changes in content, focus, logistics and structure to best bring to life the identified values.

Experience Matrices use 5 categories to investigate the Experience-Scape in question. The 5th category has two different versions. Let us look at them.

Characteristics try to describe the physical space. Is it a modern or old place? Tidy or disorderly? What feelings and thoughts come to mind? What is unique.

You might have heard of the 4 Es of the experience realms by Pine and Gilmore. Or you might not. But this looks at the types of experience you can have here. Aesthetic, Escapist, Educational, Entertainment; and Excitement or Action. And included then the 5th E of Excitement or Action.

The 3rd area is your senses. What can you smell? Salt water or diesel oil? What can you feel? Wooden interpretation panels, concrete walls, the cold air of a wine cellar? And how is your gut feeling about the place? Eerie? Calm? Curious?

The 4th area looks at what stories are there: Why is this important to me? What stories are NOT told but could be? What connects people to this place? This is about the emotional connection to the location and about ways to make it relevant to other people, as well.

The first version of the 5th area is about music. Both the music that is composed, such as ‘This is a folk music place’ or ‘Arabic music comes out of all the shops here’. But it’s also about the music of the seagulls and the sea, or the sound of birds and waterfalls and the musical qualities of places – the rhythm of people, cars, movement – you get the idea?

The second version of the 5th area is about the economic potential. Is there a chance in this area of giving visitors more than they expected, to give them added value and, you know, those things which make them leave wonderful reviews on TripAdvisor etc. Also, is this a place where you could attract investors, and how would you do that? Who might see the opportunities here? How could we sell the area to them? And can this area cope with tourists? Are the experiences likely to be sustainable over time?

Something that might be negative at a first glance could perhaps be turned into something positive or distinctive about the place. Old disused factories have been turned into culture houses, and now new buildings are being built to fit in with the raw, naked, and possibly beautiful industrial heritage in some areas. A multi-cultural market is disorderly, sometimes a little scary for some – but that is part of the experience – the smells, the sounds, the chaos, the rhythm of people bargaining, moving, gesticulating.

The collected data to create a picture of the place to guide your development, your choice of marketing, your messages, your audiences – in close connection with the stakeholders who will be the driving forces long after facilitators, project managers and tourism planners have moved on to other jobs, other challenges and other destinations.

Lovely Geopark Visit

WaterfallsFor the past couple of weeks, I have been in Wales, getting familiar with the Fforest Fawr Geopark within the Brecon Beacons and it’s people. The purpose of my trip was twofold: First of all, I needed to experience something new, have a break from it all and just unwind. And secondly, as I work with a Danish Geopark in the making, I wanted to experience how they had done it elsewhere, and perhaps pick up some tips and tricks.

I stayed with locals using Airbnb, travelled around with public transport, tasted local food, attempted to speak Welsh though my success was rather limited, alas. I visited and took notes at visitor centres, churches, museums and other places of interest – and took a lot of pictures of displays and solutions to interpretation challenges.

Furthermore, I had the chance to once again visit Forest of Dean and Wye Valley, go for a few nice long walks, learn more about the geology of my favourite place and well, get stung by some 8 foot high nettles behind a quarry somewhere.

It was a really nice trip, even though I missed my return flight and had to go via Hamburg and sit someplace silly in a railway station at 3am in the morning waiting for a connecting train. I will sort through some pictures and upload a few for you soon.

Hectic Time

Bovbjerg Lighthouse

Bovbjerg Lighthouse

My internship has been really interesting so far, and I have had the opportunity to work with many different tasks which is really nice – and also means that I am kept fairly busy.

I have been involved with fundraising, project development, facilitation, heritage dissemination, rural development, research and a heap of project secretary tasks, newsletter production, blogging and human resource management.

I’m learning a lot, meeting so many nice people and making a few mistakes here and there as well. That’s life though.

2016 Eistedfodd Festival promises economic boost for business in South Wales

I have to go to the Eistedfodd one day!

Travel and Tour World

download (2)The pinnacle of the Welsh cultural calendar, The Eistedfodd Festival, will be returning to Monmouthshire and the surrounding area for the first time in over a century in the summer of 2016 bringing with it an economic boost for the region.

Source:-Travelandtourworld.com

View original post

The differences or similarities of Ecotourism-vs-Geotourism

Brilliant post by Not A Clue Adventures!

Not a Clue Adventures - Blog

Crowley CreekEcotourism – The Definition

Ecotourism is now defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (TIES, 2015).  Education is meant to be inclusive of both staff and guests.

Principles of Ecotourism

Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement, participate in and market ecotourism activities should adopt the following ecotourism principles:

  • Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
  • Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
  • Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
  • Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and…

View original post 571 more words

Planning a Career Day

twoWhat will our work life look like when we graduate? What can we expect? Which bits of our education will be most relevant in different jobs?

That’s some of the questions we try to answer through the Career Day we’re planning for Natural and Cultural Heritage Management, my degree.

It will be a small event with around 100 students, former students, staff and prospective employees and I am looking forward to seeing it all come together – and hopefully be of help to the younger students, especially.