Sun Moon Lake is located in the foothills of Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range. The history of the lake extends over hundreds of years, as mentions of the lake have been found in writings from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The Sun Moon Lake area is surrounded by mountains in all directions and is very rich in biodiversity and water resources. A number of villages, which are reliant on the lake’s resources, have been established around the lake. The “921 earthquake” reshaped this region and caused a widespread depression that left its people bereft of the means to sustain themselves. After many years of planning and reconstruction by the government, however, Sun Moon Lake has become a multifunctional water conservation area. The lake now acts as an artificial catchment area for Taiwan, provides an avenue for civilian fisheries, and fulfills the power generation, irrigation, and domestic water needs of the people.
Tourism development refers to the utilization of cultural and natural resources in a rural region to provide relaxation to tourists and to broaden their horizons, while improving the social, economic, and environmental conditions of the region itself and of its residents. The development of tourism at Sun Moon Lake had, at its peak, brought in 826,683,137.28 US dollars’ worth of business revenue [1
]. However, during the process of this development, the competition for natural resources around the lake (at varying levels and degrees) to fulfill human needs has produced both positive and negative impacts on the local economy, society, and environment [2
]. This has led to a large decrease in tourist numbers in recent years [10
], as shown in Figure 1
, which is a potential crisis for the local government and residents, as well as tour operators in the area. For this reason, we have conducted an investigation on the current state of tourism development in the Sun Moon Lake area, to understand its developmental context and the root causes of its problems.
The original intention of tourism development is to counteract increases in stress caused by rapid advances in technology and transportation and the greatly accelerated pace of life, by providing a means for rest and relaxation. Although tourism development produces economic benefits, beautifies local communities, and improves basic infrastructure [9
], negative impacts are often caused by overdevelopment [13
]. Hence, tourism development without sustainability considerations usually results in net losses [11
]. To solve the problems of tourism development, investigations have been conducted since 1970 on the effects of tourism development from the perspective of local residents [5
]. Because tourism is based on the provision of travel experiences to tourists, in some later studies, local phenomena have also investigated tourist perceptions and feelings [16
]. However, development is an issue that is based on interactions between humankind and the natural environment, and the purpose of development is to satisfy the economic, social, and environmental needs of residents and tourists alike. Therefore, the impacts of tourism development should not be investigated solely from the perspectives of local residents or tourists, as it is necessary to consider the behaviors and feelings of all participants in the activity to gain an understanding of the observed phenomena [18
]. Although comparative studies have been conducted more recently [16
], the majority of studies in this field are still being performed from the perspective of one side or the other [22
]. Namely, none of those literatures discuss the impact of tourism development from the multiple perspectives. Therefore, in this study, the investigation of the impact of tourism development is taken consideration, from the perspectives of local residents, tourists, and other related participants to find the equilibrium in such impacts of tourism development. Based on that, the more beneficial strategies and managements are presented in this thesis.
The effects of tourism development on tourists and residents can be framed from the perspectives of supply and demand: a tourist destination provides the environment for sightseeing and travel, while the residents help to improve tourist activities, thus allowing the tourists to have an enjoyable sightseeing experience. Tourist visitation, on the other hand, helps to improve the development of local communities and individuals by promoting economic growth. However, the concerns surrounding tourism development are not limited to the provision of leisure to tourists and the improvement of the local economy and living standards, as it is also necessary to respect the natural environment and the principles of environmental ethics [17
]. Sustainable tourism development can only be achieved under the premise of a harmonious coexistence between humankind and nature [23
]. Although residents and tourists play different roles in tourism development, both parties behave similarly in that they satisfy their basic needs, expectations, and demands by extracting resources from the natural environment and ecosystem, by altering or adapting to the local environment [23
]. The effects of tourists and residents on the local environment vary by region [19
], and changes in tourism development are also perceived differently by people with various identities and backgrounds [21
]. Therefore, to understand the effects of tourism development in an area, it is necessary to examine the current state of development and the problems besetting the area from the perspectives of tourists and residents alike [24
]. In the current study, we investigated the changes caused by tourism development through the perspectives of different stakeholders on the same issues, in each village around Sun Moon Lake [4
]. Divergences in the perspectives of each stakeholder were examined, and the problems caused by tourism development were analyzed. The findings of this study will provide a comprehensive set of data for future tourism and policy developments in water conservation areas. In the remaining sections of the Introduction, we will briefly describe the location of Sun Moon Lake and its current state of tourism development, introduce the theoretical framework for analyzing the impacts of tourism, and review the results of other related studies.
1.1. Location of Sun Moon Lake and Its Current State of Tourism Development
Sun Moon Lake, which is the collective name for Sun Lake and Moon Lake, is situated in Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range, as shown in Figure 2
. Based on the area of this water source, it is Taiwan’s largest semi-natural lake/hydropower reservoir. Coupling this with the abundance of natural resources in this location, it is fitting that multiple administrative regions and governing units are responsible for this area. The lake is circumscribed by Taiwan Provincial Highway No. 21 and Provincial Highway No. 21A and is located within the administrative region of Nantou County and Yuchih Township. The Sun Moon Lake National Area Administration also manages the development and management of tourism resources in the Sun Moon Lake area. The villages established around Sun Moon Lake include Chung Ming, Dalin, Shui-She, Ri-yue, and Toushe villages, which have a total population of 16,138 residents in 2016. Under the co-management of the local government and residents, the well-known scenic locations of the lake attract millions of tourists annually [10
1.2. Theoretical Framework for Analyzing Tourism Impacts
Tourism impacts may be categorized generally as economic, social, and environmental impacts, which may be further subdivided into 18 (e.g., Job opportunities) [9
], 24 (e.g., Increased popularity of local areas) [6
], and 25 (e.g., Community environment management) [4
] different issues, respectively. These issues were synthesized to produce an edited questionnaire about the impacts of tourism on Sun Moon Lake, as shown in Table 1
1.3. Analysis and Review of Related Studies
The Earth’s ecological environment provides an abundance of natural resources, sufficient to fulfill the needs of all life on the planet. Humankind, however, affects the natural environment to varying degrees in order to meet their needs for survival and living [11
]. As different requirement levels result in varying levels of demand, the perceptions of each individual are the best indicator for ascertaining whether a resource is adequate for meeting the individual’s needs [19
The local residents of a tourist destination are the people who are most strongly affected by tourism development [5
]. Several studies have been done on the impacts of tourism on local residents e.g., [9
], the results of which prove that the feelings of local residents towards the impacts of tourism development can vary significantly.
Tourists are the most important participants in and experiencers of tourism and travel [28
]. Numerous tourist-based studies on tourism impacts have been conducted [23
]; it was found that tourists also have varying opinions about the changes caused by tourism development.
Nonetheless, the ultimate result of tourism development is produced by interactions among residents, tourists, time, space, and the environment [7
]. Residents leave their homes to develop their surrounding environment and make a living, so as to meet their living needs, whereas tourists travel through or temporarily stay in various locations for sightseeing purposes or to satisfy some other demand. Regardless of these differences, the behaviors and phenomena of tourists and residents alike are caused by the consumption of natural and cultural/historical resources to satisfy individual living needs and behavioral objectives.
The interaction between humankind and the environment will affect an area over the passage of time [7
]. Therefore, a tourist area will be affected by interactions among residents, tourists, and the environment during the processes of tourism development. The perception of the effects associated with the current state of development will also differ according to the perspectives of each area [25
]. Similarly, people with various identities or backgrounds will perceive the tourism development of an area differently [7
]. Most studies on the impacts of tourism are performed only from the perspective of residents or tourists, rather than from both sides in parallel. By simultaneously obtaining information about the perceptions of tourists and residents on the state of development of a tourist area, it is then possible to observe differences between the perceptions of different stakeholders with respect to tourism development. This will useful for finding a balance between the views of tourists and residents. The findings of this work will therefore facilitate the formulation of objective and comprehensive tourism development plans and policies, in regions related to the study area.
4. Conclusions and Recommendations
In the Sun Moon Lake region as a whole, the economic-development-related issues with the most significant differences in stakeholder perception are tourism services, consumer choices, business investments, and job earnings. The corresponding social-development-related issues are population structure, labor resources, space for development, quality of life, acceptance of tourism development, tourism infrastructure, and specialty development. The environmental-development-related issues that exhibit the greatest divergence in stakeholder opinion are illegal releases of flora and fauna, the planning of bicycle paths, public transportation in villages, and the state of water ecosystems.
In our opinion, the purpose of tourism is to provide an outlet for rest and fun. Although tourists and residents both benefit from tourism development, if we examine their interests in further detail, it becomes apparent that there are significant differences in their needs and demands. Therefore, by resolving the aforementioned social, economic, and environmental issues and by identifying the needs and differences of each stakeholder, then it may be possible to formulate a balanced tourism development scheme that wins the approval of tourists and residents alike.
In each village, there are significant differences in stakeholder perception of economic-development-related issues such as tourism plans, healthcare, consumer choices, tourism infrastructure, and professional ethics; social-development-related issues such as population structure, labor resources, and acceptance of tourism development; and environmental-development-related issues such as the development of water ecosystems, local commodity prices, and population decline.
In our opinion, tourist areas possess different types of tourist attractions, owing to the variations in their background and type, and the type of tourist attraction desired by each tourist also differs from one individual to another. Therefore, if the aforementioned social, economic, and environmental issues can be improved, so that the perceptions of the stakeholders towards each village can be made more consistent, it will then be possible for each village to formulate its own unique direction of development.
In the development of tourism and governmental policies, it is important to improve the level of service quality, develop specialty products, and cooperate with industry to increase consumer desire. The overall management and development of Sun Moon Lake should focus on development of the unique features of each village and the establishment of regional sightseeing tours, so as to improve the acceptance of tourism development among the residents and to encourage young people to return to their villages. Healthcare facilities should be improved to enhance quality of life. The number of public transportation access points in the villages should be increased, and the bicycle paths around the lake should be linked to the villages. Tourism fisheries and water activities should be developed, and artificially farmed native fingerlings should be introduced. The number of residents working in the aquaculture industry should be increased to promote environmental literacy and halt illegal releases of flora and fauna.
In our future research, we will extend this investigation towards the current state of development in other water conservation areas and study how different stakeholders perceive the balance point for development. In addition, we will also investigate how different ethnic groups and nationalities perceive the development of water conservation areas.