Stage-based tourism models and resident attitudes towards tourism in an emerging destination in the developing world

Carter Hunt, Amanda Stronza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Many researchers have used stage-based and life cycle models to describe destination development and local residents' changing reactions to tourism. Typically, they report that resident attitudes towards tourism, and its perceived outcomes for host populations, worsen with increasing experience and involvement in tourism. However, stage-based models traditionally focus on mature destinations in developed countries. In contrast, scholarship on ecotourism derives largely from developing countries and suggests that increased participation leads to more favourable outcomes and attitudes towards tourism. This paper breaks new ground by exploring attitudes to tourism in an emerging destination in a developing country and linking that exploration to a revised stage-based model. It uses ethnographic data to evaluate responses to recent tourism development in Nicaragua. While findings are complex and do not support a linear relationship between the level of experience in tourism and the attitudes of local residents, they do indicate a relationship between these two theoretical perspectives that can be used to inform one another. Notably, workers in tourism are more critical of the tourism industry than residents are. Important amendments to stage-based models are suggested that will assist tourism planners with the creation of more sustainable, community-centred development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-298
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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