Nanaimo residents’ sentiments study toward tourism: an exploration of perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs
Chen (Neo), Xunnan
Tourism is an important contributor to Canadian economic growth, as evidenced by the record-breaking 22.1 million visitors that Canada welcomed in 2019, leading to employment opportunities and service growth in all regions of the country (Destination Canada, 2019). However, the COVID-19 pandemic's global travel shutdown had severe consequences for the tourism industry and altered host communities' perceptions of visitors (Destination British Columbia, 2020). As a result, residents' views on tourism may have shifted since the pandemic, making it essential to study their attitudes and beliefs toward tourism in their community post-pandemic. Knowing residents’ sentiments towards tourism can offer destination management organizations (DMOs) and tourism stakeholders valuable insights, which they can use to enhance local tourism development by improving tourism planning and policies. Although previous studies have explored residents' sentiments toward tourism at the national or provincial level, less attention has been paid to the community level (Destination British Columbia, n.d.; Destination Canada, n.d.). This study investigated residents’ sentiments toward tourism in the Vancouver Island community of Nanaimo. Grounded in social exchange theory, this study used an online survey to measure participants' agreement with positive and negative statements about tourism in Nanaimo. Hypotheses were established according to involvement status in the tourism or hospitality industry, length of residency, areas of residency, age, and Net Promoters Score categories. Additionally, this research also explored how residents in different Net Promoter Score categories spoke about Nanaimo as a destination. To test the hypotheses and identify any significant differences between the groups, the data analysis employed SPSS software and a range of statistical tests, including T-tests, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), group comparison, Chi-square test, and Cronbach's alpha reliability test. Results revealed that Nanaimo residents generally had a positive attitude toward tourism. Participants who were employed in the tourism and hospitality industry were more positive than those who are not employed in the industry. Passives and Detractors had similar attitudes toward tourism and were less positive than Promoters. Tourism Nanaimo serves as the Destination Management Organization committed to enhancing Nanaimo's appeal as a tourism destination (Tourism Nanaimo, 2022). The study’s findings offered valuable insights and suggestions for Tourism Nanaimo and other tourism stakeholders, aimed at promoting the sustainable growth of tourism in Nanaimo.