Many people have lived in tourist destinations even before such areas became well known, and will continue to live in these areas whether tourism is successful or not. This study explores residents’ subjective thoughts and perspectives by using a phenomenological methodology. Phenomenology is a theory that seek to understand an individual’s recognition of their own subjectivity rather than explaining objective factors about an individual. We collected data from interviews with 13 residents of Bulguk-dong Gyeongju City, which has long experienced the ups and downs of being a tourist destination. The phenomenological results were expressed as three themes: (1) Being a resident with an inevitable choice, (2) the meaning of tourism in the lived experience as a resident, (3) the formation of conflicts. In conclusion, the lived experience of the residents at the tourist destination is considered “a route for individuals to protect themselves within an ever-changing social structure”. From this perspective, the tourism industry must have multilateral and detailed information about residents, and not just assume that the residents have either a positive or negative attitude towards tourism development.
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