The meaning of sense of place: The community of Vredefort Dome and Parys, Free State
De Crom, E P
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The Vredefort Dome was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2005. This status has led to an increase in tourism to the adjacent town of Parys and the Dome as well as an increase in developers that could change the character of the area. Therefore, the sense of place of the residents of, and tourists to the area requires consideration in order to find a balance when development takes place. Sense of place refers to the unique features that gives the area its character and the manner in which people relate to these features. This study investigated the participants’ understanding of sense of place of the area under study. The participants consisted of residents and tourists from Parys and the Dome. The non-probability sampling technique, amongst other, was used. The qualitative research method was utilised to gather data which was analysed through content analysis. Thereupon, themes were identified and interpreted. The connotation the participants attached to sense of place was categorised into three broad themes: affective, anthropogenic and the physical environment. The participants showed a special awareness towards protecting the character, nature and history of the area. Sense of place is rarely considered when development is considered. The findings of this study could be used as a guideline for developers in the area. A better understanding of the relationship between place and the attributes individuals assign to Parys and the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site may help the stakeholders to acquire enhanced approaches to address, identify and engage the community (both residents and tourists) in conservation and future planning processes to ensure the well-being of all concerned.