The place of meaningfulness: A study about how tourism affects the residents’ place attachment in Mirissa
Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the local residents’ perceptions of the tourism in Mirissa, Sri Lanka, and how their place attachment is affected by changes related to tourism. In order to fulfil the purpose, two research questions are answered. First, which are the most significant changes that the residents in Mirissa perceive due to tourism? And secondly, how do the tourism-related changes affect the local residents’ place attachment? The data was gathered through 18 semi-structured interviews with residents that live in Mirissa, all conducted on site. The results are analysed through three specific yet interrelated contexts of place attachment; the personal context, the community context and the environmental context. This is loosely based on a conceptual model by Raymond, Brown & Weber (2010). The conclusion of this research is that the people of Mirissa perceive their lives changes as a result of tourism. The most significant changes experienced are financial prosperity as well as societal changes. Some alterations that affect the respondents place attachment are positive and some alterations are negative. Two changes that affect the place attachment positively are that a sense of “us” and “them” is created between the tourists and the residents, tourism contributes to economic networks that strengthen social bonding. Identified alterations that have a negative effect are drug and alcohol use and that the respondents have less time to see their friends. The perceptions concerning changes in the environment due to tourism are polarized where some respondents are positive towards the increase in buildings, since they equate this with positive development. Respondents that live in high-income households had a more critical attitude.
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