Resident Attitudes Inside Victoria's Tourism Product Regions: A Cluster Analysis

Article excerpt

In the past two decades, there have been 76 published articles that have segmented tourist samples into clusters (Jackson, Inbakaran, & Schmierer, 2003). The principal aims of such research are to better understand tourist characteristics, to identify key variables that predict tourist bebaviours, to assess the value of tourism to an area, to provide knowledge to help develop facilities in designated areas, and to allow tourism marketing to plan strategies such as promotion and product development. In contrast, researchers have appeared to assume that the host population is homogeneous and has a uniform response to an increase in tourist numbers and to future sustainable tourism within the community. This research study used a cluster analysis to segment the host community into four cluster groups. Demographic variables constituted the cluster base. These four cluster groups differed from each other on gender ratio, age, life cycle stage, education, migration status, occupation and current involvement with tourism. A further analysis demonstrated that these cluster groups significantly differed from each other in terms of both attitude towards current tourist numbers and future tourism development. The results of this study are discussed in terms of exploring the underlying causes of both positive and negative attitudes of hosts toward tourism. This research highlights differing attitudes present in various community groups and explores implications for the tourist industry.

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Tourism researchers have primarily focused on travellers, their needs, behaviours and their welfare (Brunt & Courtney, 1999; Krippendorf, 1987; Sharpley, 1994). It has been stated that tourism is the largest peacetime movement of people and that tourism has had an astonishingly high annual growth rate to the year 2000 (Upchurch & Teviane, 2000). Through the 1990s, the tourism industry was considered the largest and fastest growing industry in the world with all levels of government (national, state, local) funding tourism boards to promote their locations. Until the end of September, 2004, 3.7 million tourists have visited Australia (Tourism Australia, 2004). Many tourism authors have alerted readers to the possible cultural, ecological, environmental, social and political impacts of increased tourism (e.g., Edgell, 1990).

As a consequence, various community groups have diverging perspectives regarding the impacts of tourism (Lankford, 1994). Hernarndez, Cohen and Garcia (1996) indicated two important reasons to consider residents' attitudes toward tourist development: the tourism industry will develop products in regions where they know tourists will be well treated by the host community, and government policy makers need to balance the economic benefits of tourism enterprises with the social costs/benefits of tourism in the host community.

Review of Literature

Community Focus in Tourism Marketing

In 2001, the Australian Tourist Commission (ATC) published the results of a representative sample of 1451 Australian residents and found 93% perceived some advantage that overseas tourists brought to Australia. The four major perceived advantages were economic benefits (81%), opportunity to showcase Australia (24%), visitors stimulate the culture/life of the Australian community (17%), and tourism boosts Australia's image overseas (14%). While 46% of respondents mentioned a disadvantage, 39% stated there were no disadvantages and a further 15% could not say if there were any disadvantages. The major disadvantages that were cited included threats to safety or security (health risks; tourists attract crime; 12%), growth pressures and increased demands on facilities (6%), crowds and queues (6%), and environmental damage/impact (5%). While this survey indicates Australian residents as a whole are overwhelmingly positive toward tourism, it does not segment the population in terms of perceptions, attitudes and opinions regarding current tourism levels and future growth. …