Research on Rural Residents Perceptions and Attitudes toward Tourism under Special Consideration of Socio-Economic Sustainability Issues
A Case Study in Guilin (Guangxi), China
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EnglishFor the success of sustainable tourism, it is important to know residents’ perceptions and attitudes toward tourism under its influences. Relevant research enjoys an enduring popularity in sustainable tourism research. It has long been recognized that tourism has complex impacts in economic, environmental and socio-cultural aspects which could greatly influence local residents’ life. With its quick development worldwide, tourism has gained recognition more than serving as an economic driver. In many developing countries and regions, tourism has been closely associated with some socio-economic development issues such as quality of life improvement, poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment. Hence, research on local residents’ perceptions of tourism’s effects related with these issues would make some certain contributions to tourism literature of this traditionally important research field.
This study was conducted to observe rural residents’ perceptions and attitudes toward tourism under special consideration of socio-economic sustainability issues using a case study in China. Information of research interest was collected with a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. A questionnaire survey was operated with a sample size of 450 respondents from 10 rural communities in the city of Guilin (Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region). Various influences of tourism concerning the local tourism setting were investigated from the perspective of the local residents. Furthermore, the study also tried to theoretically develop and empirically test a set of structural equation models which integrate some development effects of tourism as potential benefits into the residents’ perception-attitude models based on social exchange theory.
The results of the study show that the increase of residents’ perceptions of tourism’s beneficiary effects could significantly positively influence their supportive attitudes toward tourism. Additionally, the beneficiary effects perceptions are influenced by various tourism impact perceptions and possibly by some relevant perceptions of facilitating policy implementation. Regarding practical policy and managerial implications, the research results suggest that the interests of local communities should be taken as a priority in government’s work. Efforts should be made to realize potential benefits tourism could bring, so as to gain more residents’ support to tourism development. Residents still expect that the government could play strong facilitating roles in various aspects in the local tourism development as the public sector. However, what to be noted is that local residents as one of the most important local stakeholders should not be excluded from various tourism benefits which need to be strengthened through political support. The government should play more leading roles in facilitating the realization of more tourism’s benefits and gradually enhance local communities’ roles in local tourism development through various effective measures. Regarding theoretical implications, the study provides empirical and statistical evidence for the application of social exchange theory as a theoretical framework explaining residents’ perceptions and attitudes toward tourism development. It is hoped that the practical policy and managerial implications, as well as the theoretical implications drawn from the current study could help the policy makers, tourism managers and tourism researchers make progress in their work for enhancing sustainable tourism development.