|dc.description.abstract||There has been increased attention given in the tourism literature to experiential perspectives of tourism. This thesis addresses the lack of attention in previous experiential studies to the relationship between heritage buildings and tourism. Specifically, this thesis explores the influence of heritage buildings in shaping international tourists' experiences of a particular region of New Zealand: Hawke's Bay. This research sought insight into the specific attributes of heritage buildings that influenced the experiences of international tourists visiting the region, and examined the relative importance of heritage buildings for international tourism to Hawke's Bay, as perceived by international tourists visiting the region. In this way, results are assumed in the personal constructs of individual consumers (Beeho Prentice, 1997; Prentice, Witt Hamer, 1998; McIntosh Siggs, 2005). An increased understanding of the relationship between heritage buildings and tourism is essential in strengthening support for preservation, for product development and promotion.
A mixed-methodology comprising of 50 semi-structured interviews, 66 photograph-supported interviews and 354 structured questionnaires was adopted. Hawke's Bay's heritage buildings were found to have an important influence on tourists' experiences of the region, visually and as part of the narratives of their reported experiences. Attributes of Hawke's Bay's heritage buildings that influenced tourists' experiences of the region included their architecture, exterior and interior design, colour, history and associated stories. Furthermore, the interviews elicited three key experiential themes that emerged from respondents' narratives of their experiences in Hawke's Bay. They are; 'visual appeal', 'personal reflections' and 'engaging experiences'. Specifically, it was found that a townscape is not a passive space. Heritage buildings render the townscape an experiential place filled with emotion, mindfulness, engagement, and imbued with personal meaning. Visitors in effect created their own experiences through their active interaction with the environment; rendering it relevant to a context they were personally interested in, or which held personal significance for them. Analysis of the questionnaires revealed that, as perceived by international tourists, heritage buildings are important to a region; a significant proportion of respondents indicated that they would theoretically be willing to pay some money to ensure the preservation of Hawke's Bay's heritage buildings. This thesis evidences the important relationship between heritage buildings and tourism, and future research is advocated to advance upon the conclusions made in this research.||en_NZ