A Destination’s Social Sustainability: Linking Tourism Development to Residents’ Quality of Life

Emil Juvan, Eva Podovšovnik, Miha Lesjak, Jasmina Jurgec


Tourism positively contributes to quality of life (satisfaction with life and emotional wellbeing) of the travelling population, but the question remains how tourism affects quality of life of the host population. Residents’ quality of life is an essential aspect of sustainable tourism development and offers an attractive destination attribute for marketing. Research suggests that too much interaction with tourism may reduce hosts’ quality of life. Low quality of life, typically demonstrated with a low level of satisfaction with life and poor emotional wellbeing, leads to development of antitourism beliefs and reduces residents’ support for tourism. This may impede local policy makers and the tourism industry from developing tourism. High tourism may create income but may also induce public expenses on the account of social costs of tourism. The present study investigates the association of hosts’ satisfaction with life with objective (level of tourism development) and subjective (perceived interaction with tourists) levels of tourism development. Results indicate that neither the level of tourism development nor interactions with tourists predict hosts’ satisfaction with life and their emotional wellbeing. These findings challenge the existing prevailing assumption that a high level of tourism negatively affects residents’ quality of life, by default. A call for empirical evidence on the threshold of quantitative (for example frequency) and qualitative (for example, the nature of the interaction) tourism development is needed to reveal how local authorities can better ensure positive social impacts of tourism on the host population and tourism social sustainability. Keywords: sustainable tourism, social sustainability, quality of life, residents, destination

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