Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Sociological Insights on Residential Tourism: Host Society Attitudes in a Mature Destination

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Sociological Insights on Residential Tourism: Host Society Attitudes in a Mature Destination

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Between the late 1950s and the early 1960s, in the midst of Franco's dictatorship, Spain began its modernisation, which was mainly based on a fusion between tourism activity and real estate industry. Over the last five decades, residential tourism has brought about a sustained increase of property supply, and has drawn many people to the country; a warm climate with beneficial effects on health, affordable prices, and a 'friendly atmosphere' (a blend of natural and social environments) appeal to some of them, whereas others are attracted by work opportunities associated with the real estate industry. As is the case with many other processes in advanced capitalism, we can nowadays observe how the dynamics of residential tourism have come up against the environment's carrying capacity. However, this fact has not given rise to a clear rejection of the relationship between tourism and real estate business on the part of the local population.

We have studied, through a quantitative research approach, the attitudes toward residential tourism of residents of the towns where this tourism development model has grown more intensely. This paper puts forward a sociological explanation of how the host society has legitimised mass tourism based on the construction of second homes, a tourism model distinctive of the Mediterranean coast in southern Spain. In recent years, parts of the world unconnected to this type of tourism have opted for similar models of tourism development, such as Brazil (Assis, 2006), Mexico (Hiernaux, 2005), India (Nigam & Kumar, 2009) and South Africa (Visser, 2004). Thus, a study of a mature destination as the Spanish case may be of interest to other places involved in the initial stages of the residential tourism process.

Literature review

The authorities responsible for managing tourism in the Spanish Mediterranean have recently become aware of an indisputable reality that now exists elsewhere: there can be no successful planning for tourism development without first knowing and taking into account the attitudes of the local population. It is assumed, therefore, that when residents of tourist resorts have attitudes that oppose the interests of planners, such planners run the risk of not achieving their objectives (Allen et al., 1988; Ap, 1992; Harrill, 2004; Ritchie & Inkari, 2006). For 30 years, this axiom has led to studies on the host society's perception of the impact of tourism. Such studies tend to focus on the perception of the economic (Gilbert & Clark, 1997; Haralambopoulous & Pizam, 1996; Johnson et al., 1994; Liu & Var, 1986; Perdue et al., 1990; Smith & Krannich, 1998; Tosun, 2002), sociocultural (Brunt & Courtney, 1999; Pizam, 1978) and environmental effects (Bujosa & Rosselló, 2007; Vera & Ivars, 2003).

One of the most successful frames explaining the host society attitudes is the Social Exchange Theory whose main idea states that residents will support tourism development as long as they perceive that any potential benefits will be greater than the costs (Ap, 1992; Gursoy et al., 2002). From its perspective, it can be observed that people employed in the tourist industry express more positive opinions about tourism than those of people who are not employed (Pizam, 1978). Most researchers have confirmed this principle (Andereck et al., 2005; Jurowski et al., 1997; King et al., 1991; Perdue et al., 1990), although it has also been suggested that data interpretation needs to be enriched by using perspectives other than the predominant focus of the social exchange theory, since contradictory results have sometimes been observed (Andereck et al, 2005). Specifically, Smith & Krannich (1998) note that residents of communities, that are economically dependent on tourism, perceive its impact more negatively than inhabitants of less dependent communities. Furthermore, Teye, Sönmez & Sirakaya (2002) put forward that people who work in businesses relating to tourism have a negative attitude toward the sector. …

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