The Moderating Role of Nationality on Residents’ Perceptions of the Impacts of Tourism Development in the United Arab Emirates
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Tourism development led to increased numbers of international tourist arrivals worldwide in 2016, reaching 1.2 billion despite global challenges (UNWTO, 2017a). Tourism is a means of economic diversification for many developed and developing countries. Researchers recognize that tourism development influences the daily lives of residents both positively and negatively across various aspects, including economic, social, cultural, and environmental (Almeida-García et al., 2016; Andereck et al., 2007; Bimonte & Faralla, 2016; Brida et al., 2011; Choi, 2013; Dyer, Gursoy, Sharma & Carter, 2007; Hammad et al., 2017a). Research examines the perceptions of residents regarding these impacts, and whether residents’ perceptions affect support for tourism development. Most studies examine such perceptions in homogenous groups, which provides misleading results at multicultural destinations that include disparate groups of residents, which represent heterogeneous groups of people. Residents at multicultural destinations often include greater numbers of non-national residents in comparison to national residents. Understanding the perceptions of all residents regarding the impacts of tourism and what influences support of tourism development at a destination is important for government officials and tourism stakeholders to achieve sustainable tourism planning and development. Using social exchange theory to address how disparate groups of individuals perceive the impacts of tourism, this study examines the relationship between residents’ perceptions of the social, cultural, environmental, and economic impacts of tourism and their support for tourism development. This study also examines the moderating effect of nationality on residents’ perceptions of the impacts of tourism at a multicultural tourism destination. Based on a literature review and social exchange theory, a conceptual framework is proposed and hypotheses are developed to examine the relationship between residents’ perceptions of the impact of tourism and their support for tourism development, in addition to examining moderation by nationality in the same model. The method used in this study is a quantitative research approach, which is appropriate since it can be used to test extant theories, and it produces reliable data. Primary data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire that was distributed among UAE residents, including national and expatriate residents. Nine hundred seventy-nine usable questionnaires were returned from 371 national and 608 expatriate residents. Results suggest that residents’ perceptions of positive social, cultural, environmental, and economic impacts of tourism influence support for tourism development positively. Residents’ perceptions of the negative social, environmental, and economic impacts of tourism also appear to influence support of tourism development. Findings do not support the hypothesis that there is a relationship between residents’ perceptions of negative cultural impacts and support for tourism development. National and expatriate residents also perceive negative social impacts, positive cultural impacts, and negative and positive economic impacts of tourism differently, and their perceptions influence support for tourism development. These findings offer academic and managerial contributions that are useful to understanding residents’ perceptions of the impacts of tourism and how these perceptions influence degree of support for tourism development. One academic contribution is that findings suggest a moderating effect of nationality on the relationship between residents’ perceptions of tourism impacts and support for tourism development. Disparities in perceptions among residents provide valuable information to the government, and can be used during tourism planning and periodic reviews of government policies regarding tourism industry strategies. Future research should use mixed methods to further explain findings regarding moderation by nationality.