Document Type : Research Paper
Tourism is an important tool of development for many countries. In the past, the development of tourism insisted on maximizing the profit of business owners and little attention was paid to the natural resources and community residents. But today the new paradigm of sustainable tourism development has emerged in the tourism literature. This paradigm is trying to improve the quality of life of local residents, improving the experiences of tourists and protecting environment in the destination. Sustainable tourism development depends on the goodwill of the host community and their support is essential in the development and successful operation of sustainable tourism. For the success and sustainability of tourism in the region, positive interaction between local residents and tourists is necessary. To facilitate such positive interaction, identifying the attitudes, perceptions and satisfaction levels of residents from the tourism is very important. Community participation means that all members of society should participate in the process of tourism planning. While the public participation process is very time consuming and if not managed properly, it would be pointless. Number of stakeholders that should be involved in the tourism planning process, is high, and it is difficult and sometimes impossible to identify all of them. In addition, community members' interests, beliefs, values and attitudes about tourism Development are different and sometimes conflicting. This study intends to use the stakeholder approach as a conceptual framework, help tourism planners to identify the most important interest groups in the region and share them in homogeneous subtypes based on their attitudes to sustainable tourism development in the community and specify the demographic characteristics of each subgroup. Hence, this research seeks to answer two basic questions: are there interest groups with different attitudes to sustainable tourism development activities in the region? What are the demographic characteristics of each subgroup?
The population of this research is consist of all 13486 families in the Babolsar city. Among them, 380 samples were selected by the use of Morgan table. Due to the lack of a sampling frame in this study, judgmental sampling is used. To measure the attitudes of the residents to sustainable activities in tourism development, the SUS-TAS questioner is used. This scale is consisted of 7 indicators. These indicators include: environmental sustainability (9 items), perceived social costs (8 items), perceived economic benefits (7 items), long-term planning (7 items), community-based economy (5 items), visitor satisfaction (4 items) and community involvement (4 items). To assess the validity of the Research tool, factor analysis was used. To assess the reliability of the questioner, Cronbach's alpha was used. Data analysis was performed in three steps. In the first step, Factor analysis using Lisrel software was used to confirm the validity of the questionnaire. In the second step, to determine whether similar groups based on their attitude, exists in the sample or not, the cluster analysis using SPSS software was used. In the third step, using the ANOVA and Kruskal-Wallis tests, the demographic variables were compared between the clusters.
Results and discussion
Lisrel software calculated a t-value for each free parameter (estimated) in the model. The ideal is that these values be higher than 1/96 to be considered significant. T value for each of the indicators of the study was higher than 1/96. Therefore there are considered to be significant at the one percent level. In factor analysis, there are several characteristics of fitness. If the amount is at an acceptable level, the implementation of the proposed model is considered appropriate. All fitness indicators in this study, demonstrated a good fit and are approved. Due to verification of all the indicators of the SUS-TAS questionnaire, they have been used for clustering residents. After determining the number of clusters, they were named based on the average privileges. Pessimistic: Cluster 1 members, had the lowest mean and it shows they had the least support from the sustainable development of the tourism and hence Cynics were named. Ardent supporters: Cluster 3 members, had the highest mean and it indicates that they support sustainable activities in tourism development more than other clusters. Medium Supporters: Cluster 2 members that have the greater average from the cluster 1 and lower average from the cluster 3 in all the indicators, were named Medium Supporters. After identifying clusters and naming them, ANOVA and Kruskal-Wallis tests were used for each demographic variable to determine if there is significant differences between the clusters on the basis of sex, age, education, marital status, occupation related to tourism, income and duration of stay at the destination. Clusters were homogeneous at %95 level of confidence in the variables marital status and length of residence in the area. But in the variables sex, education, age, income and occupation related to tourism are different.
According to the results of this research, residents have different ideas about sustainable tourism development and cannot be considered as a homogeneous group. Since not satisfied attitudes of the third group (pessimists) can affect the success of tourism programs, they should be considered and the planners should attempt to obtain their support of sustainable tourism development at the first step. The number of this group in the sample is lower than the other two groups, hence their identification and participation in the tourism development planning will be easier. Tourism planners can identify them according to specific demographic characteristics of this group, and take the necessary steps to change their attitude. Since most of the people in this group, care about the environment and believed that its degradation is caused by tourists, it is necessary that environmental protection programs be included in tourism development plans. Tourists should also be aware of the importance of environmental protection to reduce activities incompatible with their environment. The group also complained about reduced quality of life and bustle over the area in some seasons. It is necessary therefore to increase the facilities and conveniences in the area.