A Queensland study shows locals living in tourism hot spots can feel disconnected from their communities because of the transient population.
Towns that attract tourists may have a more vibrant night life, but travellers can also make locals feel detached from their communities.
The results of a survey, carried out by Queensland researchers, show that living in paradise has highs and lows for those who are not just passing through.
“When people talk about tourism they usually bring up the economic benefits, but our research focused on the social part of community wellbeing,” Elena Konovalov, a PhD student at James Cook University’s school of business, told AAP.
The study found residents in developed tourism spots felt proud knowing people had travelled great distances to visit their area.
Locals also felt there were more work opportunities, compared with areas establishing themselves as a travel destination.
There was also a greater number of bars, cafes and restaurants in tourist towns, which encouraged residents to go out to eat and drink rather than stay at home.
However, those who lived in towns where high numbers of travellers flocked felt more disconnected and were less likely to become involved with their community.
The research did not look at why this was the case, but Ms Konovalov says a potential reason is that these towns have more transient populations, as many working holiday travellers move on after a few months or years.
Ms Konovalov says this could make it difficult for community projects to get off the ground and lead to residents having less say over developments.
Researchers surveyed residents at Airlie Beach – the gateway to the Whitsundays – and emerging tourism destinations the Atherton Tablelands, inland from Cairns, and Bowen.
Ms Konovalov hopes further research will influence tourism development plans and their social impact.