Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Perceived Impact of Tourism by the Resident Population in Torrevieja: National versus Non-National Residents

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Perceived Impact of Tourism by the Resident Population in Torrevieja: National versus Non-National Residents

Article excerpt

Introduction

The attitude of residents to tourism has been a topic that has attracted considerable interest in the field of tourism research (Liu and Var, 1986; Allen et al., 1988; Ap, 1992; Casado-Díaz, 1999; Besculides et al., 2002; Ritchie and Inkari, 2006; Andereck et al., 2007; Cecil et al., 2010; Long and Kayat, 2011; Xie et al., 2012; Michalkó et al., 2013; Wang, 2013). All these studies on this topic suggest that the attitude of residents is influenced by the manner in which the host community perceive the impact of tourism, including economic, socio-cultural and environmental aspects. Most of the studies(Allen et al., 1988; Besculides et al., 2002; Ritchie and Inkari, 2006; Andereck et al. 2007; Cecil et al 2010; Long and Kayat, 2011; Xie et al., 2012; Wang, 2013), the host community is a heterogeneous group of individuals who have different reactions to the same impacts. To know how the different groups of individuals perceive these impacts, studies have considered different factors (social, demographic and economic) that could initially affect perception.

Although there is a huge literature that has considered the ethnicity factor (Liu and Var, 1986; Um and Crompton, 1987; Besculides et al., 2002; Long and Kayat, 2011; Wang, 2013) the nationality of host residents has been overlooked. This is an important factor in some municipalities on the Spanish Mediterranean coast where there is a higher percentage of non-national than of national residents. This non-national population, mostly from Central and Northern Europe, is settled and has been living in Spain for some time.

Although there may be doubts about the group to which these people belong, hosts or tourists, there are several reasons for classifying them as hosts. Firstly, due to the historical process of this population's settlement in the municipality, the majority have long times of residence. A long time of residence is expected to generate some level of attachment to the region (Gu and Ryan, 2010), enabling their classification as hosts of seasonal tourism. Secondly, most of them have a second residence in the municipality, usually owned, so they are registered in the municipal census and have official resident status. This gives them access to many free municipal and regional services, especially healthcare. Furthermore, these non-national residents are entitled to vote in municipal elections and local corporations therefore treat them as a host population, whose opinions are important enough to encourage positive attitudes.

The objective of this note is to present a cross-national analysis about the perceptions of residents regarding the impacts of tourism. Specifically we evaluate whether the nationality of host residents (national versus non-national) is a relevant factor in the perception of the impact of tourism.

Literature review

Studies of the perception of the impact of tourism have proliferated over recent decades (Deery et al., 2012 and Sharpley, 2014 describe the main contributions made on this topic). Mostly, these studies take several factors into account in order to include the heterogeneous nature of the host community (Liu and Var, 1986; Long and Katat, 2011; Cecil, 2008; Long and Kayat, 2011; Wang, 2013). Indeed, the theory recognizes the heterogeneous nature of a host community (Ap, 1992), where different groups of individuals may hold different attitudes to tourism depending on their perceptions. Several studies (Liu and Var, 1986; Andereck et al., 2007; Cecil, 2008; Long and Kayat, 2011; W ang, 2013) also took into consideration the role of socio-demographic aspects in the perception of hosts (such as age, language, sex, ethnicity, marital status, educational levels, etc). However, the results of these studies have not been entirely consistent with respect to the ethnicity factor; some of the evidence (Um and Crompton, 1987; Besculides et al., 2002; Long and Kayat, 2011) confirms the influence of ethnicity factors on residents' perceptions whereas others have not made such connections (Liu and Var, 1986; Cecil, 2008; Wang, 2013). …

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