Visitors to North Dakota Heritage and Cultural Tourism Sites: Visitor Profile, Motivation, Perceptions, and Family Decision Making
Interest in cultural/heritage tourism has been increasing in recent years. The number of person-trips has increased from 192 million in 1996 to almost 217 million in 2005 (a person trip is one person traveling 50 miles or more away from home, one way). Thus, the number of travelers visiting heritage/cultural events and attractions combined with their propensity to spend more money, make them a very attractive market segment for the state of North Dakota which is home to a wide variety of heritage and cultural attractions. The aim of this project was to assess the characteristics of visitors to North Dakota heritage and cultural tourism sites. Intercept surveys were conducted at three heritage/cultural tourism attractions. Visitors to North Dakota Cultural/Heritage tourism sites were most likely to be married, around 50 years old, with moderate incomes and well educated. They were most likely to find out about the attraction through friends or relatives, followed by the North Dakota State Tourism guide. Medora and the International Peace Garden were assumed to be primary destinations, whereas the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center visitors were likely on a trip elsewhere when they stopped by the site. A majority of Medora respondents had previously visited the site, as had the respondents from the International Peace Garden. Site characteristics and the fact that the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center is a newer site, make it less likely to have as many repeat visitors as the other two study locations. Almost all respondents were likely or very likely to recommend all the sites to others and overall respondents were very satisfied with their visit to the study locations. Most visitors learned about and received information about the attraction from friends or relatives. Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Medora visitors were more likely to participate in other activities while on their trip. Respondents to Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Medora most frequently planned to participate in art/cultural attractions and pioneer/frontier history. Visitors to the International Peace Garden were not as likely to participate in other activities as visitors to the other study locations. Respondents had a positive perception of North Dakota. The most positive perception was of the state’s beautiful scenery, which correlates with what respondents indicated was their motivation for traveling. Respondents most frequently indicated they participated in leisure travel to enjoy scenery and for sightseeing. Most traveling decisions were made jointly by couples.
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