Publication in: Spring 2023 Issue

An Analysis of Resident Involvement in and Attitudes Toward Tourism and Management Implications for Asheville, North Carolina
Casey Feiler
Environmental Science
Faculty Mentor(s):
Alison Ormsby
Abstract / Summary:
As human populations and the ability to travel increases, tourism destinations are experiencing overtourism. This is when a tourist destination is subjected to a number of visitors that decreases the quality of life for its residents and negatively impacts the location. These destinations often receive an influx of new businesses that, along with visitors, are recipients of benefits that come with the tourism industry while residents bear more costs, such as increased cost of living, destruction of the environment, and a negatively impacted job market. A mixed methods study was conducted in Spring 2023, consisting of a literature review, key informant interview, participant observation of Asheville tourism stakeholder meetings, and analysis of United States resident surveys and destination stewardship councils. One of the key findings was that the main hindrance to success in tourism management was maintaining momentum. For instance, destination stewardship councils and volunteer and community organizations struggle with consistent project timelines and meeting goals. Tourism destinations that conducted resident surveys on attitudes and overtourism had created goals, but struggled to follow through. Successful destinations were in regular contact with their partners and had high community engagement. Those that prioritized resident viewpoints in decision making and planning processes had favorable outcomes. To create a tourism industry that reflects the needs of its host location and avoids overtourism, it is recommended to form destination stewardship councils that consider both the tourism industry and the wellbeing of the destination and its residents -- instead of destination marketing organizations, which cater to potential visitors. Using surveys to gauge resident priorities helps identify what roles and actions residents want government entities to adopt as well as what actions residents are willing to take to support a destination with sustainable tourism.
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