The effects of tourism impacts upon Quality of Life of residents in the community
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The sample population consisting of residents residing in Virginia was surveyed. The sample was proportionally stratified on the basis of tourism development stages covering counties and cities in the state. Three hundreds and twenty-one respondents completed the survey. Structural Equation Modeling and Hierarchical Multiple Regression were used to test study hypotheses.
The results revealed that the residents' perception of tourism impacts did affect their satisfaction with particular life domains significantly, and their satisfaction with particular life domains influenced their overall life satisfaction. The hypothesized moderating effect of tourism development stages on the relationship between the perception of tourism impacts and the satisfaction with particular life domains was not supported. The results indicated that the relationship between the economic impact of tourism and the satisfaction with material well-being, and the relationship between the social impact of tourism and the satisfaction with community well-being were strongest among residents in communities characterized to be in the maturity stage of tourism development. This finding is consistent with social disruption theory which postulates that boomtown communities initially enter into a period of generalized crisis, resulting from the traditional stress of sudden, dramatic increases in demand for public services and improving community infrastructure (England and Albrecht's (1984). Additionally, residents develop adaptive behaviors that reduce their individual exposure to stressful situations. Through this process, the QOL of residents is expected to initially decline, and then improve as the community and its residents adapt to the new situation (Krannich, Berry & Greider, 1989). However, when a community enters into the decline stage of tourism development, the relationship between the economic impact of tourism and the satisfaction with material well-being, and the relationship between the social impact of tourism and the satisfaction with community well-being may be considered to be the capacity of the destination area to absorb tourists before the host population would feel negative impacts. This is consistent with the theoretical foundation of carrying capacity, suggesting that when tourism reaches its maturity or maximum limit, residents' QOL may start deteriorating.
Further, the relationship between the cultural impact of tourism and the satisfaction with emotional well-being, and the relationship between the environmental impact of tourism and the satisfaction with health and safety well-being were strongest in the decline stage of tourism development. Neither the theories of social carrying capacity nor social disruption offered much to explain this result. However, this result is consistent with Butler's (1980) argument that in the decline stage, more tourist facilities disappear as the area becomes less attractive to tourists and the viability of existing tourist facilities becomes more available to residents in the destination community. As residents' perception of negative environmental impacts increases, their satisfaction with health and safety well-being decreases in the decline stage of tourism development unless the area as a destination provides rejuvenating or alternative planning options.
It has been well established that residents in certain types of tourism communities might perceive a certain type of tourism impact unacceptable, while in other communities, the same impact type may be more acceptable. Thus, the study suggests that the proposed model should be further tested and verified using longitudinal data.
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