This article aims to explore the ways in which heritage sites can be brought to life for visitors through immersive experience, and attempts to build a conceptual framework. It is based on a multidisciplinary project carried out by scholars of different backgrounds, which means that it relied more on knowledge and expertise sharing, rather than statistical data, even though a further research on consumer behaviour is planned. In heritage sites, the tangible aspects enable first-hand experience with the phenomena, providing a strong sense of reality. On the other hand, intangible aspects, which can be felt and evoked through the medium of heritage, are equally important. The sense of place is generated by those feelings and the meaning as a product of interpretation obtained by first-hand experiences as well as any kind of medium. Getting sense of place is based on physical features making the place special or unique, stories and memories abiding connection to the place, as well as the spirituality or spectral aspects also called as hauntings. The essence of heritage interpretation lies in bringing the meaning to the surface as a result of cultural interfaces and engagements with our environment. The conceptual framework is threefold tackling with phenomenological, narrative and semantic levels of exploration, storytelling and meaning making. This article helps to elucidate the nascent field of immersive heritage exploring the experience (physical vs. virtual), the narratives (content vs. context) and the meaning (interpretation vs. action). In doing so, it suggests the ways in which immersive heritage can build up meaningful relationships in understanding and valuing heritage sites while enriching our experience through the absent presence between the physical and imaginary worlds.
Immersive experience, heritage tourism, absent presence, sense of place, storytelling, meaning making