The importance of understanding residents’ perceptions of the impact of tourism is substantial when it comes to the successful development of tourism [1
], as well as local support of tourism development [2
] and the satisfaction of host communities [5
]. Many authors agree that tourism has an effect on the economy, social-culture, and environment of host communities [7
]. Tourism tends to be beneficial to the communities whose government is in the stage of tourism development because it can increase their quality of life in different ways, such as improved facilities and employment opportunities [8
]. It also enhances the economy [9
], creates more natural and cultural attractions, and helps protect these attractions [10
]. Besides this, tourism leads to an increase in restaurants and accommodation services and creates more festivals and outdoor recreation opportunities [9
]. Regrettably, despite such benefits to the community, negative impacts can occur when tourists interact with local residents. For instance, tourism increases the cost of living and contributes to an increase in crime, the use of drugs, and traffic, leading to a big change in the culture of local residents [12
], as well as environmental damage [3
Several studies have found that the influence of residents’ perceptions toward tourism affects their satisfaction [5
]. Wang et al. [17
] noted that residents’ satisfaction is one of the key factors leading to tourism development’s success. Tourism studies show that there is a lack of research into the perceptions of residents in developing [18
] and Muslim countries [19
] and residents’ satisfaction with tourism in the public sector [20
]. Therefore, this research was conducted in the Petra region of Jordan. Tourism contributed to 19.4% of the GDP, 8.8% of the total investment, and 18.1% of the total employment in the country in 2016 [21
]. Petra Tourism and Development Region Authority (PDTRA) is an autonomous agency created to develop the region in all aspects, especially the tourist industry, and to emphasize the importance of cultural heritage. Despite its touristic and cultural importance, Petra as a tourist destination is surrounded by many challenges, such as the decreasing number of visitors, political instability in the Middle East, and an increase in the number of one-day visitors [22
]. Political and security instability influence the growth of tourism in any country [23
]. Consequently, the region’s economy may experience instabilities, such as the seasonality of tourism employment, resulting in the dissatisfaction of residents who expect to gain economic benefits from tourism activities [11
However, sustainability initiatives have recently started in the region. After joining the National Protected Areas Network in 2017, a remarkable step for the PDTRA and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was to assess 17 sustainable development goals. The main objective that must be met to make Petra a nature reserve is to minimize the negative impacts of tourism (see Supplementary Material 1
) and to involve the local community in the tourism industry.
In spite of the importance of Petra as a world heritage destination, there is a notable absence of opinions and perceptions of the local population regarding tourism [22
]. This research provides knowledge about the residents’ satisfaction with local management and examines the role of sociodemographic characteristics, especially the role played by gender and place of residence, in the perception of three types of impacts: Sociocultural, economic, and environmental. Furthermore, while many studies have been carried out to investigate the archaeological site of Petra, few studies have been conducted to investigate the residents’ perceptions of tourism impacts. This study was conducted to meet the need for a perception analysis of residents in the Petra region toward tourism leaders. This study involved five years of observations of the most important issues and included in-depth desk research of projects, strategic plans, and the government’s role in the region. The authors believe that this study will eventually help tourism leaders to manage the impacts of tourism on the local community and create a healthy host–guest environment. Moreover, it is a part of a greater effort that aims to investigate tourism development and its impacts on the local community in the Petra region and shed light on the key factors that support sustainable tourism development.
This paper contributes to the existing knowledge of tourism’s impacts and residents’ perceptions by examining their satisfaction with local management and determining how their satisfaction is influenced by the perceived tourism impacts. Furthermore, this study fills the gap in the literature related to the use of sociodemographic variables as predictors of perceived tourism impacts.
Specifically, this study has three objectives: (1) Assess and identify residents’ perceptions of the impact of tourism in the Petra region, (2) examine whether residents’ sociodemographic characteristics and community attachment influence the residents’ perceptions of the impact of tourism, and (3) examine the influence of the perceived impact of tourism on the satisfaction with local management. The results of this study will help tourism leaders to identify the most important impact of tourism and understand how different characteristics of the residents influence their perception of those impacts. Moreover, it will help to establish measures according to residents’ characteristics.
The GLM model results indicate that all five domains were significant (p
< 0.01) explaining the variation of (6.3% of PCS), (10.6% of PEn), (14% of PE), (8.6% of NSEn), and (7.7% of NE). The reader is reminded that only significant results are shown in Table 3
. Linear regression was applied to examine whether the perceptions’ domains influence the residents’ satisfaction. The model was significant (F = 39.524; p
= 0.000) and explained 30% of the variation. Perceived positive economic impact was the strongest predictor of satisfaction (β = 0.307) followed by positive environment (β = 0.243) and positive socio-culture domain (β = 0.196). Negative perceived impacts were found not to be a significant predictor of the residents’ satisfaction (see Table 4
). It should be noted that only significant results are shown further on.
Hypothesis 1 predicted that when there is a greater level of attachment, the perceived negative and positive impacts increase. This hypothesis was supported in terms of negative economic impacts (β = 0.150, p < 0.01); positive socio-culture (β = 0.064, p < 0.1); and positive environment (β = 0.230, p < 0.01). Hypothesis 2 hypnotized that the further away residents live from the touristic area, the more they are worried about negative impacts and the less they favor positive impacts. Findings support H2a in terms of PSC (β = 0.234, p < 0.01), PEn (β = 0.209, p < 0.01), and PE (β = 0.181, p < 0.01), and H2b was rejected in terms of NSEn (β = 0.239, p < 0.01). Hypothesis 3 predicted that females perceived more negative impacts and less positive impacts than males do. Results of the PE domain support hypothesis H3a (β = –0.565, p < 0.01) Conversely, the results of NSEn (β = –0.355, p = 0.003) reject hypothesis H3b.
Hypothesis 4a was supported by results of PEn domain (β = 0.076, p < 0.1). It was predicted that the greater the age of a participant, the more negatively they perceived positive tourism impacts. Moreover, in terms of the PE domain, it was rejected (β = –0.086, p < 0.05). There were no significant findings in the negative domains. It was hypothesized that having a job related to tourism positively influences perceived tourism impacts. Thus, H5a was rejected in terms of PSC (β = –0.400, p < 0.05) and PEn (β = –0.491, p < 0.05). H5b also was rejected by the results of NSEn (β = 0.280, p < 0.1). According to hypothesis 6, it was hypothesized that the higher education level the residents have, the higher they perceive negative and positive impacts. H6a was supported in term of PSC (β = 0.116, p < 0.05), and H6b was supported by the results of NE (β = 0.089, p < 0.1) and NSEn (β = 0.135, p < 0.05). Hypothesis 7 predicted the perceived higher negative impacts and less positive impacts to be induced by participation in local associations. Both hypotheses were supported in terms of PE (H7a β = –0.170, p < 0.1) and NE (H7b β = 0.203, p < 0.05). Moreover, hypothesis 8 predicted that the perceived benefits of tourism will positively influence the satisfaction of residents with local management. This hypothesis was supported in terms of PSC (β = 0.196, p < 0.01), PEn (β = 0.243, p < 0.01), and PE (β = 0.307, p < 0.01). Finally, hypothesis 9 hypothesized that when residents perceive the costs of tourism development, their dissatisfaction becomes clear toward local management. This hypothesis was rejected.
As an example of the results, the β value (regression coefficient) of gender in the PE domain tells us that females perceive fewer positive economic impacts than males, with an average score of 0.565. Likewise, the β value of the age in the PEn domain indicates that as the age group increases (e.g., from 25–34 to 35–44), the perceived positive environmental impacts increase by 0.076.
Generally speaking, the results reveal many perspectives of the residents’ perceptions of tourism impacts in the Petra region. Regardless of the theoretical support of the hypotheses’ results, it was found that attachment has the highest regression coefficient in the positive environment domain, distance has the highest in the negative socio-environment domain, gender has the highest in the positive economic domain, age has the highest in the positive economic domain, having a job related to tourism sector (T-employed) has the highest in the positive environment domain, education has the highest in the negative socio-environment domain, and P-NGO has the highest in the negative economic, and positive economic perceptions in satisfaction with local management. Highlighting these results helps us to determine the implications of the study.
5. Discussion and Conclusions
This study offers broad insight into residents’ perceptions toward and their satisfaction with tourism development in the Petra region. An investigation of the satisfaction of the local community is considered to be the main contribution of this study. Moreover, it provides a profile of the influence of different extrinsic factors and intrinsic factors on the three types of perceived tourism impacts (economic, sociocultural, and environmental), which contributes to the current knowledge and understanding of residents’ perceptions toward tourism development, especially in developing, Arab and Muslim countries. Moreover, the authors hope to inspire other investigators to understand the impact of tourism in similar areas so that a more comprehensive theory of tourism may be formulated The findings of this study include several significant results, although they are not supported by the theoretical background of the study (see Table 3
Regarding the groups of perceptions, the social-culture domain was clear to the respondents (it scored the highest VE among other domains; see Table 2
). This explains the importance of the sociocultural aspect to the residents, as they are strongly associated with their cultural norms and traditions. The case study of Sare’in and Masooleh, Iran, emphasizes this conclusion [19
]. Moreover, Dogan [98
] confirmed that tourism influences the sociocultural aspect of the host, pointing to the location’s traditions.
Moreover, it was found that positive economic perceptions are highly evident among the respondents (it scored the highest R2
among other domains; see Table 3
). This might explain the importance of the economic impacts to residents, as they expect to gain economic benefits from tourism. Harrill [66
] demonstrated that residents can recognize both negative and positive impacts of economic dependency on tourism. Moreover, several studies have found the economic aspect to be very important to the respondents [55
]. The negative perceptions toward economic impacts in the Petra region may be affected by the limited opportunities to economically benefit from tourism. Farajat [91
] and Al Haija [90
] pointed out that there is an unequal distribution of tourism’s economic benefits among residents. Residents may feel that tourism’s benefits reach them unequally. Likewise, individuals with social strength receive benefits from tourism, while other residents do not, and this disparity is considered a critical negative impact of tourism [100
]. Besides the decline in economic growth in Jordan [101
], the residents, especially those near the tourist site, have experienced critical changes, such as increased living costs and some fraud issues, as mentioned by Jordanian Anti-Corruption Commission (JIACC). Antonakakis et al. [102
] pointed out that tourism can create such problems.
5.1. Community Attachment
Some authors have used the length of stay to measure the level of attachment to a community. In this study, the authors used three items with a 5-point Likert scale, which helped to increase the reliability of the scale. However, in terms of perceived impacts, community attachment was found to positively affect the perceived positive socio-culture, positive environment, and negative economic impacts. These findings are consistent with those of Látková and Vogt [3
], Rasoolimanesh at el. [103
], and Luo and Xiao [104
]. They concluded that residents with a high level of community attachment are more optimistic about the perceived positive sociocultural and environmental impacts of tourism than those who are less attached. Moreover, the findings are in line with the results [57
], although they indicated that negative economic perceived impacts are influenced positively by the level of attachment. In the case of the Petra region, residents are characterized by their attachment to their community and place of residence [90
]. The authors consider this to be sensitive to factors that often confound correlational studies. Accordingly, we recommend an experimental research study to measure this relationship; such studies were also advised by Fong et al. [106
]. Moreover, Morales et al. [107
] found that community attachment is positively correlated with support for sustainable tourism development. Gursoy et al. [57
] found that more attached residents are more supportive of tourism development. Thus, local management should consider this in their future planning for sustainability.
5.2. Distance from Tourist Zone
The findings indicate that distance from tourist sites influences the residents’ perceptions, and this is consistent with SET only in terms of positive domains. For instance, Khoshkam et al. [64
] found a significant positive effect of distance on the perceived positive economic impacts in Anzali, Iran. Moreover, Haley et al. [38
] found that residents living far from a tourist site have a greater sense of tourism’s impacts, and similar results were found in a study by Jurowski and Gursoy [14
]. Residents who live at a greater distance from the Petra site may expect greater benefits from tourism because their towns are in the early stage of tourism development. In terms of negative environmental impacts, the results contradict SET; however, they are in line with the results of Faulkner and Tideswell [108
]. In the case of Petra, this might be explained by the landscape topology of the region, which is characterized by mountains with steep declines, along with a lack of development of the tourist area. Tourism causes traffic and litter, especially in the downtown of Wadi Musa, where local public and private services are located. Residents who live near tourism sites may feel that tourism increases the use of natural resources, especially water, in a dry region, such as Petra, and they are aware of changes in the life they used to live [14
]. Moreover, this result can be explained by the lack of development and tourism services in Taybeh, Rajif, and Dlaghah, as the residents expect to gain benefits from tourism. In the stages of establishing the PDTRA, residents of all six communities decided to join the region in light of the government’s promises that their towns would be developed and that the residents would gain more from the tourism industry. Local management should pay more attention to the infrastructure and ensure equal distribution of the benefits of tourism to gain residents’ support for future sustainable tourism development, which is an important cause. Residents’ support will help to protect historical sites and tourist attractions.
5.3. Gender and Membership in Local Organization
The variation in perceptions between women and men was strongly statistically significant in terms of perceived positive economic impacts. Women were found to be less favorable than men regarding potential economic benefits, and this result is consistent with the findings of Harrill and Potts [56
], Mason and Cheyne [67
], and Rasoolimanesh et al. [103
]. For instance, Harrill and Potts [56
] found that women in Charleston are more concerned about economic benefits than men are. However, this finding has been contradicted by other study results, such as the findings of McGehee and Andereck [36
], Wang and Pfister [41
], and Mason and Cheyne [67
]. In terms of negative domains, it was found that women perceive fewer socio-environment impacts than men. This is in contrast to most of the literature. Despite that, the results here confirm the findings of Harrill and Potts [56
]. Being part of a local organization was found to be indicative of perceiving economic tourism impacts. The results are in line with other studies (e.g., [18
]). This explains the motivation of those residents who are part of a local association to find better economic solutions, as there are very few work opportunities in the region [76
Descriptive statistics indicate that women participate in local organizations more often than men; however, women in the Petra region may tend to be part of the tourism industry and supportive of tourism development through their participation in local associations. Sinclair-Maragh [110
] reported such findings in Jamaica. However, Mason and Cheyne [67
] noted that women recognize tourism development’s positive impacts, such as acquired economic benefits. The reason for this observation is thought to relate to the cultural limitations that women face in Jordan, especially in the tourism sector. Such concerns were also raised in a report by the European Training Foundation [92
] and several local organizations in Jordan, such as Tadamun. It is possible that women in the region participate in local associations because they are appropriate jobs according to cultural roles, similar to that observed in Turkey in the case study by Çiçek et al. [111
]. Is this a transformation period for women involved in the tourism sector in the Petra region? However, the community boundaries surrounding women who work in the tourism sector have been pointed out by several works (e.g., [112
]). Moreover, Jafari and Scott [114
] pointed out the influence of religion on tourism activities in Islamic countries. This is what Scott [113
] found in the Turkish Cypriot region. Nowadays, women in the Petra region are collaborating with the tourism industry through jobs in local associations related to the food preparation and handicraft industry. Therefore, local management should ensure that benefits from tourism are distributed equally among residents, especially between men and women. Gender equality is important to the sustainable development of local tourism [83
]. The participation of women in tourism-related employment in Petra will likely increase in the coming years.
The findings indicate that older residents in the region perceive positive environmental impacts to a higher degree than younger residents. The result is in line with Bujosa and Rosselló’s [100
] study of the determinants of environmental attitudes in the Balearic Islands. Moreover, Nunkoo and Ramkissoon [80
] found that the older residents of Port Louis are more positive toward social terms than younger residents. More importantly, a study by Mustafa and Tayeh [112
] in the Petra region indicates that tourism helps to increase environmental awareness among residents in the Petra region. Moreover, the relation between age and positive economic perception was found to be significant, but it is not consistent with the literature. The greater extent of negative perspectives among young residents might be due to the lack of job opportunities when they expected to gain economic benefits from tourism. Thus, the management of the region should emphasize the investment opportunity to provide more jobs in the region while also ensuring that these opportunities are distributed among all six communities.
5.5. Employment in the Tourism Sector
The results indicate that residents who have tourism-related jobs do not have favorable perceptions toward tourism impacts, but this is not what SET suggests nor what is reported in most of the reviewed literature. However, it is in line with the results of Teye et al. [18
] and Mustafa and Tayeh [112
]. In the region, this can be explained by three points: The low wages of tourism-related jobs, seasonal unemployment, and the early stage of tourism development [115
5.6. Level of Education
Education level was found to be a discriminator of residents’ perceptions in the region. In terms of positive sociocultural impacts, the results agree with those of Almeida-García et al. [69
] in their study in Benalmadina, Spain. In addition, the study by Látková and Vogt [3
] in rural communities reported consistent findings. Also, in terms of the NSEn and NE domains, the results here are in line with those of [10
]. In the Petra region, the positive view of tourism’s sociocultural impacts can be explained by the awareness of tourism benefits favoring those with higher education. According to the negative economic views, as mentioned before, the lack of job opportunities and inability to work can increase these negative perceptions.
5.7. Satisfaction with Local Management
Previous studies have not addressed this relation; however, the overall satisfaction of the residents is found to have a significant relationship with perceived tourism impacts, similar to the findings of [17
]. For instance, Ko and Stewart [10
] found that perceived positive tourism impacts are positively related to overall satisfaction. Cottrell et al. [81
], in a study carried out in China, examined the influence of sustainable tourism diminutions (institutional dimension and social-culture) on residents’ satisfaction. The former was found to have the strongest dimensions. In spite of the insignificant results for the negative domains, other studies have found a negative relationship between overall satisfaction and negative perceptions (e.g., [10
]). Authors have argued that the disregard of residents’ perception in the Petra region by tourism leaders [108
] and the lack of residents’ involvement in tourism planning may increase their negative feelings toward tourism management. The involvement of the residents in planning and making decisions about the development of their own area helps to increase their satisfaction with local management [55
]. An important conclusion of this study is the confirmation that positive perceived tourism impacts and residents’ satisfaction should be considered in sustainable tourism development in the Petra region. Besides the findings in this paper, it has been previously indicated that the satisfaction of the local community is an important factor for tourism development [17
], and seeking support for tourism development has been suggested [6
In spite of what this study contributes to the literature and to sustainable tourism research, its limitations should be recognized. The literature related to host–guest interactions are few in Jordan. The theoretical background of this study is based on research in other countries that have different characteristics. This issue was identified by Almeida et al. [68
], who argued that local residents perceive the impacts of tourism on the basis of their characteristics and the conditions (e.g., heritage, culture, history) of their place of residence.
This study is valuable for what it can provide to management in the Petra region regarding the management and control of the impacts of tourism to achieve sustainability in the region. Finally, the findings of the study suggest that the local administration should pay more attention to the residents’ perceptions, involve women in the industry, and involve residents in tourism planning. Future research should investigate support for sustainable tourism development and the community’s involvement in decision making.