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Article

Resident Support for Tourism Development: Application of a Simplified Resident Empowerment through Tourism Scale on Developing Destinations in Flanders

1
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
2
Visit Flanders, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
3
Department of Economics, University Ca’Foscari of Venice, San Giobbe 873, 30123 Venice, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: James Kennell
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6934; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126934
Received: 15 May 2021 / Revised: 11 June 2021 / Accepted: 17 June 2021 / Published: 20 June 2021
While the potential macro-economic benefits of tourism development have been well-established, the negative social effects of uninhibited growth have received increased attention in the last decade, emphasizing the central role of communities in the search for a sustainable balance in tourism. This paper focuses on the relatively underdeveloped Scheldeland region in Flanders (Belgium), where a strategic goal is to leverage cultural and natural heritage to boost development. Via a resident questionnaire based on a simplified version of the Resident Empowerment through Tourism Scale (RETS), we identified support for tourism development and deconstructed the drivers of this support. The objective was to empirically validate the research instrument and underlying theory in a situation of relative ‘undertourism’ and prospective future growth. The questionnaire collected 2058 responses, and the partial least squares-structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) results indicated that support for tourism, which was generally high across the seven municipalities, was mainly affected by social, psychological, and political empowerment, with personal economic benefits not playing a significant role. These results show that social exchange theory (SET) as a theoretical basis for potential tourism support has limited validity in currently underdeveloped destinations. Secondly, comparatively speaking, the municipalities with the lowest tourism development were least supportive of tourism growth, with an increase in tourism intensity seemingly leading to increasing support due to a higher awareness of accrued benefits through tourism. View Full-Text
Keywords: resident attitudes; Resident Empowerment through Tourism; social exchange theory; PLS-SEM resident attitudes; Resident Empowerment through Tourism; social exchange theory; PLS-SEM
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MDPI and ACS Style

Neuts, B.; Kimps, S.; van der Borg, J. Resident Support for Tourism Development: Application of a Simplified Resident Empowerment through Tourism Scale on Developing Destinations in Flanders. Sustainability 2021, 13, 6934. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126934

AMA Style

Neuts B, Kimps S, van der Borg J. Resident Support for Tourism Development: Application of a Simplified Resident Empowerment through Tourism Scale on Developing Destinations in Flanders. Sustainability. 2021; 13(12):6934. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126934

Chicago/Turabian Style

Neuts, Bart, Senne Kimps, and Jan van der Borg. 2021. "Resident Support for Tourism Development: Application of a Simplified Resident Empowerment through Tourism Scale on Developing Destinations in Flanders" Sustainability 13, no. 12: 6934. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126934

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