Determinants Of Urban Residents' Perceived Tourism Impacts: A Study on the Williamsburg and Virginia Beach Areas


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Virginia Tech


The existing research in the field of tourism has exhibited a clearer understanding of how residents perceive the dynamic and complex phenomena of tourism. Since the goals of tourism planning and development are to seek maximization of benefits and minimization of the costs of tourism, it is apparent that the effective evaluation of tourism impacts will be valuable information in successful strategies for tourism product development and operation. With these perspectives, this study attempted to investigate the underlying dimensions explaining residents' perceived tourism impacts and to identify relationships between determinants and residents' perceived tourism impacts.

The social exchange theory provided a fundamental framework for this study. The dimensions of the tourism impacts were addressed by explicating economic, social/cultural, environmental/physical impacts of tourism development from literature review. Ten determinants which affect residents' perception were identified from past research on tourism impacts: birthplace, length of residency, community attachment, tourism related jobs, recreational activity, tourist contacts, tourism policy participation, travel experience, levels of tourism development, and growth of community.

Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News MSAs areas were selected as the study area because these areas provide fine multifaceted tourism attractions, generates many tourists, and influences the host community' life. A total of 316 useful respondents (13.2%) were analyzed by using the SPSS program. Two research questions were proposed. Factor analysis, multiple regression analysis, and multivariate analysis of variance (MANAOVA) were performed.

From the findings of this study, residents perceived the impacts of tourism as five different dimensions embodying economic benefits, social costs, cultural enrichment, environmental deterioration, and physical enhancement. Their perceptions were affected by eight out of ten determinants. Generally, a higher level of tourism development and growth of community affects residents' perceptions of tourism impacts. Residents who were natives, who have higher community attachment, and who had been living in the research area for a shorter time period had more concerns about the perceived impacts of tourism. In addition, perceived tourism impacts were significantly differed across household incomes and ethnic groups.

For future study, it is suggested that a further investigation of determinants affecting residents' perceptions is needed for better understanding and explanation of the impacts of tourism. It is believed that this study would help tourism planners and developers formulate and implement better strategies.



Residents' Perception, Determinants, Tourism Impacts, Regression.