Host-guest interaction on Bruny and Magnetic Islands, Australia
thesisposted on 13.01.2017, 00:48 authored by Moyle, Brent Don
Islands are integral to the earth’s biodiversity, with their distinct environments offering a haven for a variety of threatened species of plants, wildlife and unique human cultures. Worldwide, tourism activity profoundly impacts upon destinations, but the impacts on islands are noticeably more acute due to their fragile environments and isolated communities. Research has found that tourism can impact island communities in a variety of ways, including economically, socially and environmentally. Importantly, social interaction is often central to the visitor experience on islands, yet local resentment of tourism development can dilute the tourism experience and inhibit the use of host-guest interaction as a point of market differentiation. Thus this research explores the process and outcomes of host-guest interactions within the context of island tourism. Previous studies on host-guest interaction have assessed the consequences or impacts tourism has on local communities. Social Exchange Theory (SET) has commonly been used as a tool to frame residents’ perceptions of the economic, environmental and socio-cultural impacts of tourism. SET consists of four key stages: initiation of exchange; exchange formation; transaction evaluation; and, consequences of exchange. Building on SET as a conceptual framework for host-guest interaction, this research sought to: explore locals’ perceptions of host-guest interaction; explore visitors’ perceptions of host-guest interaction; and, evaluate visitors’ perceptions of the impacts of host-guest interactions on local communities. A mixed methods research design is used to explore host-guest interactions on Bruny and Magnetic Islands, two islands located off the east coast of Australia. This included three sequential phases of data collection: Phase One assessed residents’ perceptions of host-guest interactions; Phase Two appraised visitors’ perceptions of host-guest interactions; and, Phase Three measured visitors’ belief and evaluation of the impact of tourism on the local island communities. This research revealed that locals were motivated to interact with visitors for a variety of reasons, ranging from economic needs through to a desire to deliver meaningful experiences. Similarly, visitors’ identified three sets of needs they required from interacting with the local island communities: basic or superficial; meaningful; and, latent needs. Host-guest interactions were facilitated by festivals, events and markets; community clubs and groups; and, business exchanges via employees of local business and government agencies. Barriers to host-guest interaction were perceived to include: social resistance by the community; a lack of support infrastructure and resources; and, deficiencies in opportunities, communication and promotion. Often host-guest interactions consisted of a transaction of money for goods and services, or the exchange of knowledge for status. The island communities viewed tourism development as having positive economic impacts, but negative environmental and socio-cultural impacts which detracted from its benefits. This is in contrast to visitors who perceived tourism activity to positively increase the economic and social impacts for island communities, while having negative environmental impacts. Although visitors acknowledged host-guest interaction can cause negative impacts, generally they considered tourism to positively impact island communities. Notably, visitors’ considered the impact of their own visit to be more positive and less negative than the overall impact of tourism on each of the islands. Finally, visitors’ recognised that host-guest interaction can influence their behaviour on the islands, citing both positive and negative incidences of behavioural change. This research has important implications for island tourism planning and development. It unearths the intricate and important process of host-guest interactions and also highlights the need to understand the perceptions of both visitors and locals in the sustainable tourism development process.