Date of Award

Summer 8-21-2015

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Sandra De Urioste-Stone

Second Committee Member

John J. Daigle

Third Committee Member

Mark W. Anderson

Abstract

Tourism has long played a central role in the economy, culture, and livelihoods of the people of the State of Maine. The long-term sustainability of this industry in the state is crucial for the current and future prosperity of both businesses and residents. Sustainable tourism has emerged as a key concept over the past few decades and its’ tenets have clear applicability within the state. Research on residents’ perceptions of tourism impacts and development suggest that the support of local residents to be highly important if a community’s tourism industry is to be successful and sustainable in the long-term. This study used the Sustainable Tourism Attitudes Scale (SUS-TAS) as modified by Yu, Chancellor, and Cole (2011) to explore resident perceptions of sustainable tourism at the statewide level and determine the variables that influence attitudinal differences across demographic groups. Residents’ attitudes on sustainable tourism in their community were based on their perceptions of each of the following seven factors: (1) Perceived social costs, (2) Environmental sustainability and tourism, (3) Long-term planning for tourism, (4) Perceived economic benefits of tourism, (5) Community centered tourism economy, (6) Ensuring visitors’ satisfaction, and (7) Maximizing community participation. An online survey was used to inform this study and followed Dillman’s ‘Tailored Design Method’ to refine the overall quality of the instrument, and increase response level. Factor analysis with varimax rotation revealed that seven factor categories on residents’ attitudes of sustainable tourism accounted for 65.7% of the variance in the responses. Results of one-way ANOVA tests found significant differences across age, income and education groups regarding resident perceptions about sustainable tourism. Independent samples t-tests found that there were significant differences in attitudes between male and female residents for perceptions of social costs, long-term planning, economic benefits, community-centered economy, and maximizing community participation. A cluster analysis was also conducted to group residents across the state based on their views of the perceived social costs of tourism in their community, its environmental impacts, and the need for long-term tourism planning. The results of this analysis found three types of residents in the state and were described as the “Satisfied Plurality”, the “Wavering Supporters”, and the “Realists”. These results also found that area of residence was the most substantial indicator of membership within one of these clusters. The results of this overall research study provided key management implication for tourism planning in the State of Maine including the need to incorporate residents’ attitudes into tourism planning efforts and addressing the needs of each of the separate resident clusters.

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