A Bayesian modeling approach to assess the moderating effect of gender and nationality on perception of residents towards support of tourism development in the United Arab Emirates

Authored by: Nada Al-Sabri , Avraam Papastathopoulos , Syed Zamberi Ahmad

The Routledge Handbook of Tourism Impacts

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  April  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138494961
eBook ISBN: 9781351025102
Adobe ISBN:


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In recent years, the tourism industry has played a significant role in the economic growth of several parts of the world. Studies on the impacts of tourism suggest that the perceptions of residents towards the impacts of tourism can influence their support for tourism development. Residents’ support for tourism is essential to ensure sustainable tourism development and is sought after by government officials and tourism policy-makers. Despite the increasing amount of research in recent years on residents’ perceptions of the impacts of tourism, the majority of the research is conducted at destinations where residents rely on tourism as the main source of income, such as islands, rural areas, and small urban areas. The findings from existing research may not be applicable to other destinations that do not rely solely or substantially on tourism proceeds. Previous research on residents’ perceptions towards the impacts of tourism has been criticized for being atheoretical. In an attempt to fill this gap, this study utilizes social exchange theory and social identity theory to examine residents’ perception of the social and cultural impacts of tourism. In addition, this study examines the moderating effect of gender and nationality on the relationship between residents’ perception of the impacts of tourism and their support for tourism development in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations in the Middle East, with huge investment, iconic buildings, mega-events, and modern tourist attractions. The UAE has a strong and diverse economy and it was listed as one of the ten richest countries in the world in 2017. The number of tourists visiting the UAE each year is more than the total number of residents. The characteristics of the UAE provide an interesting case study that will reinforce extant findings and contribute to further development of tourism theories by conducting research at disparate geographical locations. This study utilizes quantitative research methodology using Bayesian structural equation modeling (BSEM) to examine residents’ perception of these impacts. The BSEM approach is receiving a lot of attention because it offers more accurate data analysis results. Additionally, BSEM is characterized by its flexibility to handle many complicated models and data structures. Although the Bayesian approach offers unique advantages over a covariance-based approach, its application in empirical tourism research is very limited. The present study contributes in this direction by adopting Bayesian methods for SEM estimation in order to examine the compound relationship between the social and cultural impacts of tourism and residents’ support for tourism development. The moderating effects of nationality and gender are also examined. Furthermore, this study can be used as a good reference for the use of BSEM in tourism literature. The model was tested using a survey of 979 residents, including nationals and expatriates in the UAE. Overall, the results confirmed the authors’ predictions that gender and nationality acted as a moderator in the relationship between residents’ perceptions of tourism impacts and support for tourism development. The findings of this research enhance the knowledge and understanding of residents’ support for tourism development. Additionally, the authors propose several practical implications for UAE’s government officials and tourism planners in developing policies and strategies to alleviate the concerns of residents regarding the negative impacts of tourism and to increase the benefits that residents associate with tourism.

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