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Social repercussions on places declared World Heritage Sites

The economic benefits generated by tourism and the degree of participation in planning and decision-making are the factors that are most valued by the residents of these areas

University of Seville

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Credit: University of Seville

A researcher from the Economic and Business Sciences Faculty of the University of Seville, together with a group of teachers from Malaysia, has published a study of the factors that influence the perception of tourism of the residents of places that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites, in both rural and urban areas. This project was carried out in Malaysia, specifically in the city of George Town, on the island of Penang, in the north of Malaysia, and in the Lenggong Valley, also in the north of the country, as an example of a rural area with developing tourist activity.

Four factors were analysed; the residents' emotional link with their local community, the values the residents the residents place on the care and preservation of the heritage and nature, the economic benefits that the members of the community obtain from tourism, and the degree of resident participation in the planning and decision-making processes connected with the development of tourism in their community.

"In this way, in the rural area, the factor that was perceived most positively regards tourist development is the economic benefits that this activity can generate for the community. While in the urban area, it is resident participation in the process of decision-making linked to planning regarding the development of tourist activity in their community that is perceived most positively", explains José Luis Roldán, Professor at the University of Seville and co-author of the study.

On the other hand, another significant difference that the results showed is that participation by rural residents in tourist planning provokes more negative perceptions of the development of tourism than is the case with the urban community, where its impact is invaluable.

By applying the Partial Least Squares technique (PLS), the experts have been able to know if there is a significant relationship between the four factors and the opinions held by the residents of the two communities, as well as to determine which of these factors has the greatest impact when predicting these perceptions and there are significant differences between each community.

"PLS is a fairly versatile technique whose use has substantially increased over the last twenty years. In fact, the areas of knowledge in which it is used are very varied. Among those in which it is commonly used are strategic management, marketing, accounting, operations management, systems information, etc.", adds Roldán.

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