Airlie residents generally satisfied
TOURISM, the lifeblood of Airlie Beach’s economy, is typically seen as a positive for the region; providing an increase in job and educational opportunities, as well as furnishing rate and tax money that goes towards improving local infrastructure and people’s quality of life.
However, a recent study by James Cook University PHD student Elena Konovalov has found that a booming tourism industry, although providing economic benefits for the area, can also lead locals to feel detached from the communities in which they live.
The study, which surveyed local residents across Airlie Beach, Bowen, and the Atherton Tablelands, sought to explore the links between the scale and style of tourism development and various social aspects of community well-being.
Ms Konovalov said that her findings seemed to suggest that benefits derived from a more developed tourism industry such as work and educational opportunities, more community services and public places to socialise in can also come at a cost.
“The research suggests that higher levels of tourism development can increase the transient population of temporary workers, can contribute to locals feeling detached from their community and less willing to give back to their community, and as tourist numbers increase, some locals can begin to feel angry and powerless about these changes,” she said.
The study surveyed 174 people in Airlie Beach, 180 in Bowen and 247 in the Atherton Tablelands.
Of the three towns, Airlie Beach has the most developed tourism industry.
The study found that in Airlie Beach, 74 per cent agreed that people in the community overall get along with each other very well, 15 per cent of residents volunteer for community activities and 58 per cent of respondents reported knowing most of their neighbours, the lowest proportions of all three regions surveyed.
Overall satisfaction with the number and type of residents in Airlie Beach was 81 per cent and some 80 per cent of Airlie Beach respondents stated they wanted to see a further increase in visitor numbers.