Journal article Open Access
Scholtz, Marco; Melville, Saayman
The positive sentiment, as well as the role of the residents as a key stakeholder in the scuba diving tourism system (SDTS) in Italy’s Portofino Marine Protected area (PMPA), is essential for the sustainability of the SDTS. However, studies on this area found that residents did not form part of the planning and the implementation of the MPA or SDTS, and as a result, negativity towards these industries was observed. It was the purpose of this study to determine possible gaps in communication and understanding between two key stakeholders in this SDTS, namely the residents and the dive operators in order to create better undertstanding and resident sentiment towards the industry. This was done through a mixed-method approach. Interviews were held with dive operators, after which a questionnaire was distributed to residents. From the results, misperceptions and miscommunication were found between the two stakeholders which caused negativity in the SDTS. The data showed that residents are not aware that they are stakeholders with an essential role in the SDTS. This study contributes to current literature regarding the importance of residents as stakeholders in SDTSs and the tourism industry as a whole, and the manner in which negative social impact perceptions can foster negativity towards tourism activities. From a practical perspective, this study makes recommendations on how systems such as the PMPA and SDTS should be planned and managed by incorporating the key stakeholders into the planning and implementation, thereby bridging the gaps in communication and understanding between the stakeholders, and building a more sustainable tourism industry.