Host Community Reactions to Major Sporting Events: The Gold Coast Indy and the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne
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It is a widely held and not unfounded belief, that major events stimulate the local economy and 'showcase' the region to the world, potentially promoting future tourism and business activity. This is one of the major reasons that there is increasing private and public sector support for events based economic development strategies. There are other important positive impacts that are often associated with the staging of events, many of which may directly benefit the local population, including the development of facilities and infrastructure, entertainment and social opportunities, and a sense of pride brought about by playing host to a major event. However, it is also clear that there are outcomes of staging an event that have a negative impact on the local population. Any event attracting large numbers of visitors to a relatively small area is likely to create some problems with noise, traffic, crowding and disruption. There are also likely to be other costs specific to the event or its implementation. While some of the costs and benefits of an event may affect the whole community, others tend to impact on certain subgroups of the population. For example, residents who are involved in tourism may receive a direct economic benefit, and those who have a particular interest in the theme of the event socially and psychologically benefit, to the extent that they are entertained by it. Similarly, some subgroups are more affected than others by the negative impacts, particularly those living (or conducting their routine activities) closest to the event's focal point. The issue of the relative costs and benefits is therefore compounded by concerns about distributive justice. This dissertation examines the ways in which local residents react to the staging of a major sporting event within their community. Two case studies, involving the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne and the Gold Coast Indy Car Race, were examined within a framework that combined aspects of traditional methods of investigating host community perceptions of tourism with social representations theory. Social representations are the ways in which people perceive various phenomena in the world around them. By identifying these different 'patterns' of perceptions, and profiling the subgroups of the community who hold them, it is possible to gain a better understanding of both the tangible and intangible impacts of events, and how they differentially affect the quality of life of local residents. Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, five different ways of perceiving the impacts of these events were examined. The five levels can be regarded as points along a continuum, ranging from extremely negative to very positive. The largest group identified, in the middle of the continuum, demonstrated ambivalence in terms of their views on the impact of the event on their quality of life. However, given that they perceived a slightly positive overall community impact, and were largely in favour of the continuation of the event, they can be regarded as being more similar to the positive groups. In profiling the residents who held each of the representations identified, it was found that the most negative group was generally comprised of those residents whose routine activity space regularly included the focal points of the respective events. Very few members of this group had any financial involvement in tourism, and almost all of them were totally disinterested in motor racing. At the other end of the continuum, in the most positive group, very high levels of interest in motor sport were observed, and more than half of this group worked in tourism or at least perceived some boost to levels of trade in their industry because of the event. The ambivalent group was characterised by low levels of contact with the areas around the respective tracks. They generally lived a long distance away and rarely travelled to the region. The investigation of the spatial variation in the perception of event impacts was supplemented through a Geographic Information Systems Analysis, which mapped the perceptions of a number of impacts across the two cities. Finally, an examination of qualitative data, collected via open-ended questions presented to each respondent, provided greater depth of understanding of the basis for differing social representations. It also provided insight into the most salient issues that residents consider when contemplating the impact of an event.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Tourism and Hotel Management
Item Access Status
host community perceptions