Hosts guests and a drug culture in a destination: a case study of Nimbin Australia

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Buultjens, J, Neale, K & Lamont, MJ 2013, ''Hosts, guests and a drug culture in a destination: a case study of Nimbin, Australia', Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 185-195.

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Host and visitor interactions are important in determining a destination's sustainability. According to social exchange theory, negative outcomes from deviant tourism-related behaviours such as illicit drug-related activities can result in reduced host and guest support for tourism. While drug use may attract some guests it can also deter others and may also result in an inauthentic experience. Thus, reconciling host and visitor perceptions and aspirations can often be problematic. This paper examines how hosts and guests in Nimbin, Australia, a destination with a reputation for a relaxed attitude towards illicit drug use, view tourism. The paper draws upon three studies – an online content analysis, a survey of guest expectations and behaviours, and a stakeholder workshop of hosts – undertaken between 2007 and 2010 to demonstrate how the drug culture image of the town is affecting the host-guest nexus. Online discourse strongly emphasised a permissive drug image within Nimbin while the stakeholder workshop revealed that many hosts are unhappy with this emphasis. A substantial majority of guests to Nimbin are attracted by the town's reputation/image however they appear to be less interested in the drug culture than in the alternative lifestyle. Residents also expressed a desire to lessen the emphasis on drugs to focus on the destination's alternative lifestyle. However, the partially industrialised nature of tourism undermines efforts to achieve a change in destination image.

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