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Limitations of resident perception surveys for understanding social impacts. The need for triangulation

Northcote, J.K. and Macbeth, J. (2005) Limitations of resident perception surveys for understanding social impacts. The need for triangulation. Tourism Recreation Research, 30 (2). pp. 39-50.

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Resident perceptions survey (RPS) approaches to social impact assessment (SIA) in tourism are currently en vogue, but little discussion has taken place over the validity of this approach to SIA. This paper contends that there are serious limitations involved in RPS approaches when employed as a stand-alone SIA method, which throw doubt on whether the results obtained from these surveys in fact indicate actual impacts from tourism at all. While it is not disputed that the RPS approach can be an important SIA tool, it is argued that RPS results - if they are to be accepted as valid measures of social impacts - need to be supplemented by other research data, such as that obtained from visitor surveys, participant observation, in-depth interviews and, of particular focus in this paper, quantitative social indicator research. An integrated approach is recommended that aims to determine whether the impacts indicated in RPS results derive from tourism development or are caused by external factors, including factors that may well be 'imaginary' in nature. Hence, a combined approach attempts to triangulate the causal variables underlying the perceived impacts. The importance of undertaking such triangulation is not only to further understanding of the effects of tourism development on host communities, but to ensure that the incorporation of resident attitudes into tourism planning is undertaken in an informed manner that will benefit all concerned.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Centre for Tourism Research
Copyright: © Tourism Recreation Research & Tej Vir Singh
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