Residents’ perceptions and impacts of tourism development: A case study of Ancient Nessebar

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Tourism is generally regarded as an industry with a significant impact over local population. Numerous researchers have reported that tourism results in both positive and negative impacts. The development of tourism activities in a particular destination has led to some serious impacts and contributes for several changes in residents’ patterns, traditions and way of life. As a result, there is a need to study residents’ perceptions and attitudes towards tourism development and such investigation could be valuable as residents are one of the main stakeholders in the industry. A great number of researchers have explored residents’ attitudes and the vast majority of them tended to agree that positive impacts are dominant. Most of the previous analyses have used quantitative methods as their primary tool of investigation. However, a growing number of studies have examined tourism influence by using qualitative approach.
The purpose of this research is to explore residents’ perceptions and attitudes towards tourism development in a typical summer tourism destination. The ancient town of Nessebar in Bulgaria was used as an example of such place. The research examines residents’ perceptions towards overall tourism development, economic contribution, socio-cultural influence and environmental awareness.
The study is based on multiple research methods and includes review of previous literature studies and journals, statistical analysis and strategies for development and semi-structured personal interviews with residents. This process of triangulation was used because it was considered as the best method as providing multiple perspectives.
The research resulted in a discussion, which revealed to both positive and negative attitudes. Residents expressed a wide spectrum of impacts and reported several changes in their way of life as a result of tourism development in the region. Generally, residents perceived positive attitudes towards economic impacts, stating that tourism generates more income and provides employment. They also regarded positive attitudes towards socio-cultural development of the area and considered tourism as a tool for promoting their culture and traditions. On the negative side, tourism resulted in more pollution, crimes, traffic congestion and economic dependence. Strong negative perceptions were found towards local environment and nature, as the industry was blamed for deforestation, water pollution and overcrowding.
This study identified some emerging issues for development of tourism activities in the region. A brief discussion was related to proposed tourism expansion and the importance of creating a new strategy for development was highlighted. Residents stated a concern about tourism planning and management as well as the concept of sustainable development. The results of the study also revealed that the vast majority of respondents agreed that tourism needs new strategy oriented to prevention of mass tourism and promoting some new alternatives like developing of eco-tourism, encouraging cultural exhibitions and festivals and tailor-made trips in order to attract more wealthy visitors.
Date of Award26 Feb 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bedfordshire
SupervisorAndrew Holden (Supervisor)


  • Tourism
  • Bulgaria
  • Nessebar
  • World Heritage
  • Tourism Impacts
  • Residents' perceptions

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