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Abstract

Do tourists believe they positively or negatively impact the destinations they visit, particularly those that rely on coastal nature and heritage-based environments to attract visitors? How do tourist’s perceptions compare to residents, and what additional insight might this information provide for destination management organizations (e.g., Convention and Visitors Bureau’s) and local government officials? Furthermore, how do residents perceive their own impacts to the communities they live in? As such, this exploratory study, unlike previous studies, compared tourists and residents perceived impacts to a coastal destination. Statistically significant mean differences were found across the social, economic, and environmental condition impact items assessed. The majority found was linked to environmental conditions (e.g., air and water quality), with tourists believing they had more of a negative impact than locals. Demographic differences did play a modest role in influencing perception particularly as it related to age where tourists believed they detrimentally impacted environmental and social conditions as their age increased. Although the findings from this study are limited, the groundwork for a larger study is in place that could ultimately aid natural and historic resource managers in the area, as well as tourism and local government officials. If replicated, it is expected that this study could aid other coastal tourism communities in better understanding the tourists and locals they serve.

Keywords

Tourism Impacts, Resident Impacts, Tourism Development