A model of perceived impacts of tourism on residents' quality of life in selected towns
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Worldwide tourism has become one of the largest and fastest growing industries. Specifically in the South African context, this growth has been confirmed in recent statistics. However, the growth in the tourism industry does not occur without challenges. It brings both benefits and costs to the residents of a host community, consequently generating both positive and negative tourism impacts. Further, it is recognised that once a community becomes a tourism destination, the lives of the residents are influenced by that particular development; thus effecting their Quality of Life (QoL). Only minimal research has, however, been conducted to determine the influence of the perceived impacts of tourism on residents’ QoL, especially in the South African context. A number of theoretical frameworks have been developed in tourism to signify how the perception of or reactions towards tourism of residents in a host community are influenced at any particular stage of development. Pertaining to QoL, various theoretical models have also been created to describe the functioning of the construct. Although theoretical frameworks have been developed that are distinct to tourism and QoL; to date an integrated approach does not exist that explores the influence of tourism on residents’ QoL. In addition to the lack of an integrated approach in literature, the permanency of tourism products too have not yet been examined in literature. Further, permanency has not been examined in order to determine the influence of tourism impacts on residents’ QoL in selected towns, one being a permanent tourism product (PTP) and the other a nonpermanent tourism product (N-PTP). From the above, it can be seen that three theoretical and practical issues exist: (1) only a modest amount of research has been done to determine the influence of tourism impacts on residents’ QoL; (2) an integrated approach does not exist signifying the relationship between tourism impacts and QoL and; (3) permanency as a differentiation factor has not been investigated in host communities. By addressing these issues, a significant contribution will be made to literature, together with the ensuing practical contributions. Therefore, the main goal of the study was to develop a model to indicate the influence of perceived impacts of tourism on residents’ QoL in selected towns; these having specific differentiation made between a PTP and N-PTP. In order to achieve the goal of the study, five objectives were formulated: The first objective was to analyse theoretical frameworks of tourism and QoL and to identify a particular theoretical framework for the study. Specifically, the Social Exchange Theory (SET) was selected from the theoretical frameworks of tourism, while the Bottom-up Spillover theory was designated as it is peculiar to QoL frameworks. Therefore, the derived theoretical framework indicated that an ‘exchange’ process occurs between tourism development and the residents of the host community. More specifically, social exchange arises between the perceived impacts of tourism and life domains in order to establish the QoL of residents in host communities. The second objective was to analyse tourism both as an industry and product in a host community through a review of existing literature. From the literature review, it can be seen that tourism is a growing industry and product, not only internationally but also in the South African context. Permanency as a characteristic was explored comprehensively to define a tourism product while maintaining the differentiation between a PTP and N-PTP. Residents of a host community are noted as important roleplayers in the tourism industry as tourism impacts affect them in PTP and in N-PTP. This importance is emphasised as residents of a host community: (1) influence the tourism experience; (2) determine the attractiveness of a destination and; (3) control the sustainability of tourism in a host community. The third objective was to analyse QoL and its relation to the residents of a host community, once more, through a literature review. From the review, it was observed that QoL has different definitions and views, some more intricate than others. For the purpose of the study, it was determined that QoL can be described appropriately through the Bottom-up Spillover theory. Therefore, QoL is determined through the collaboration of various life domains that, further, may be either objective or subjective in nature. When examining the relationship between tourism development and QoL, it was established that tourism, through tourism products, produces effects that will influence various life domains, consequently determining the QoL of residents in a host community. As with tourism impacts, the QoL of the host community’s residents will subsequently: (1) influence the tourism experience; (2) determine the attractiveness of a destination and; (3) ensure the sustainability of tourism in a community. The fourth objective was to analyse the influence of the economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts of tourism on residents’ QoL and to differentiate between a PTP and N-PTP by using an empirical study. Having in mind that the main goal of the study was to develop a model, Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Structural Equation Modelling were conducted on the data. The models, constructed separately for tourism impacts and QoL, were subsequently integrated to determine the influence of the perceived impacts of tourism on residents’ QoL. The model with good model fit statistics and supportive of underlying theory was thereafter accepted for further analysis in order to attain comprehensively the main goal of the study. Thereafter, model development tested permanency of tourism products by specifically determining the influence of perceived impacts of tourism on residents’ QoL in selected towns (PTP and N-PTP). From the latter exercise, no practically significant differences were found between a PTP and N-PTP. Therefore, the model constructed as Stage 3 was accepted as the final model of the study and was given the title of Root’s model of Community TourQoL (CTQ). Specifically, the model signified that positive economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts influence residents’ QoL, while negative environmental and social impacts do not influence residents’ QoL in host community. Furthermore, the model showed that no differences were found between a PTP and N-PTP regarding the influence of perceived impacts of tourism on residents’ QoL. The fifth and final objective was to draw conclusions, indicate contributions, formulate recommendations and present limitations peculiar to the study. The greatest significance of the study is seen in the practical contributions of the study, specifically, the development of Root’s model of Community TourQoL (CTQ). Community and tourism planners and/management can implement the model in both PTP and N-PTP to enhance the positive impacts of tourism; while minimising negative impacts, in order to improve residents’ QoL.