Local Residents’ Perceptions of and Attitudes Toward Sustainable Tourism Planning and Management in Amasra (Turkey)

Bulent Cengiz

Bartin University, Faculty of Forestry, Department of Landscape Architecture

Turkey

1. Introduction

Tourism has a prominent role in international economy, and especially for many developing countries, is a major source of income. This economic prominence has led to an increasing competition among destinations (United Nations World Tourism Organization, 2012). Diversification of tourism activities and the quality of local environment play a key role in this competition as tourists seek unique, aesthetically pleasant and culturally attractive places (United Nations Environment Programme, 2009).

For instance, coastal historical settlements have a significant tourism potential as they offer not only cultural and historical values, but also natural landscape through the merger of sea and shore, the prime elements of coastal tourism which is arguably the dominant form of tourism worldwide (Yazgan and Kapuci, 2007; Kelkit et al. 2010). Tourism activities in coastal areas have direct and indirect effects on the local and national economy and the quality of environment (Mason and Cheyne, 2000; Harrill and Potts 2003; Ernoul, 2009). The effects of tourism development vary to a great extent as it has the potential for both positive and negative outcomes, especially at the local level (Lankford and Howard, 1994; Lee et al. 2007). Lack of tourism planning and management causes loss of biodiversity and pressures on natural resources (Puczko and Ratz, 2000; Israeli et al. 2002; Harrill and Potts, 2003; Welford and Ytterhus, 2004; Ernoul, 2009), air, water and soil pollution, degradation of natural and cultural environment, visual pollution, decline in the quality of life and public health, as well as degeneration of the socio-cultural structure.

The goals of sustainable tourism development are related to the ecological aspects (environmental quality), economic aspects (feasibility), social characteristics of the locality (acceptance by residents), and lastly, to tourist satisfaction (Dymond, 1997; Puczko and Ratz, 2000). Sustainable tourism enables tourism development that is compatible with the carrying capacity of the ecosystem. It creates recreational opportunities for local residents and visitors alike, and is effective in the protection of historical and archaeological sites (Sertkaya, 2001).

The multifaceted nature of sustainable tourism development requires tourism policy to integrate strategies for sustainable development and poverty reduction and measures

related to climate change and biodiversity. Furthermore, to accomplish such multidimensional goals, tourism strategy should engage national, regional and local administrations alike. With respect to the sustainability of tourism benefits at the local level, an integrated approach to management is needed to protect natural resources from diverse tourism pressures (United Nations Environment Programme, 2009).

Participation of local people is important in sustainable tourism planning. In this respect, residents’ expectations of tourism, perspectives on tourism and perceptions of the natural and cultural values play an important role in the development of sustainable tourism planning and management strategies.

Ernoul (2009) reports that the local residents’ perceptions of tourism development are largely neglected. Several studies focus on special events in order to comprehend the perceptions of the local population regarding tourism (e. g. Soutar and McLeod, 1993; Jackson, 2008). The results of these studies suggest that tourism has a positive impact on the residents’ quality of life. According to Lee et al. (2007), research on local populations’ perceptions of tourism development is useful for developing measures to overcome problems due to hostility between visitors and local populations (Sethna, 1980) and for making plans to gain resident support for further tourism development.

This study measured the local residents’ perception of the necessity of sustainability of the natural, cultural and historical values that constitute the resource of tourism activities in the city of Amasra in order to determine the attitudes toward and participation in tourism development of local residents. With a rational tourism planning approach, it concludes with some proposals for providing opportunities of year-long tourism activities, especially considering its coastal location, gastronomy, local handicrafts and pensions and for contributing to regional economy in terms of sustainable tourism development.