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Hillman, PR 2016, 'Tourism and quality of life: perceptions of local industry employees in Ubud Bali', MBus thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright PR Hillman 2016


Previous studies have found that tourism provides economic benefits to host communities, including employment, income, foreign investment, improved infrastructure and facilities. However, positive impacts are often juxtaposed with local concerns regarding the negative aspects of tourism, such as seasonality, congestion, loss of culture and foreign ownership. Much literature supports the notion that residents support tourism, as long as benefits derived outweigh any costs incurred. All the same, recent studies advocate a movement beyond traditional social impact studies, specifically to advance scholarly inquiry into how tourism impacts the quality of life (QOL) of local inhabitants and how locals with a direct economic attachment to the tourism industry perceive the connection between tourism and QOL.

Consequently, the aim of this thesis is to explore the perceptions of locals employed in the tourism industry of Ubud, particularly, the impacts of tourism on QOL. This aim is achieved through the investigation of three key objectives, specifically (i) to explore what QOL means for locals employed in the tourism industry in Ubud, Bali; (ii) to investigate how locals perceive tourism contributes to, and detracts from their QOL; and (iii) to identify the connections between perceived QOL and support for future tourism development. A series of 21 semi-structured interviews with Balinese locals employed in the tourism industry were undertaken in May, 2014. The interviews were conducted under the expert guidance of a bilingual university-educated local “gatekeeper” (See Figure 3.1), and were audio-recorded, transcribed and then analysed using open, axial and selective coding to identify common themes.

Key findings revealed the core dimensions of QOL for respondents included family, health, friends, education and the working environment. Respondents value their community and surroundings, due primarily to the village feel, scenery and climate. Overall, respondents were primarily positive regarding the influence of tourism on QOL. However some questioned whether tourism was actually necessary in order to achieve QOL. Respondents showed concern for the potential of tourism development changes to Ubud such as modern, Western style accommodation, loss of traditional farming land and increased traffic. However, many were equally appreciative of the benefits received from tourism such as job opportunities, economic development, opportunities for cultural creativity and improvements to the local infrastructure and facilities.

This research extends traditional studies that focus primarily on identifying and measuring the perceived social impacts of tourism on host communities, by providing in-depth insights into what QOL means to locals employed in tourism. Future research should consider comparing and contrasting these with perceptions of QOL of residents in host communities not directly employed in the tourism industry, and their views on the impacts of tourism and future development. In addition, future research should enhance the conceptual clarity surrounding issues of how tourism and future development impacts the unique culture and traditions of destination communities.