Air­lie res­i­dents gen­er­ally sat­is­fied

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.

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