More Different Perspectives

Why Resident Sentiment Matters

For a destination management organization (DMO) to achieve community alignment, it must understand resident sentiment. Knowing what your residents think about tourism is an essential element to shaping a tourism stewardship plan that aligns with their needs.

Resident Sentiment Surveys can give you important data and insights. The results can enable you to connect more closely with residents or address an issue that is facing your DMO.

How Resident Sentiment Helped Visit Tucson

Clarity of Place recently advised Visit Tucson on ways to foster community alignment and meet shared tourism-community goals. We used Longwoods International’s Resident Sentiment findings for Visit Tucson to help reprioritize recommendations from the DMO’s 2019 Destination Master Plan and chart a strategic direction that achieved stronger community alignment.

Using the resident survey results, we identified opportunities for Visit Tucson to align with community members’ wishes. Below are a few of the key findings.

1. Leveraging Local Ambassadors

Data Points: 79% of resident respondents feel they are ambassadors for the Tucson area even among tourists they do not know. (This finding is 80% higher than the US norm.)

In addition, “Visiting Friends and Relatives” is the number one reason people visit Tucson (44% of trips), according to regional Longwoods International Travel USA Visitor Profile results commissioned by the Arizona Office of Tourism.

Opportunity: Visit Tucson should leverage residents to invite more friends and relatives to the area while also providing a warm welcome to other guests. Doing so will provide support for local businesses. Visit Tucson should also tap residents with connections to conventions and sports events to become more involved in helping recruit those events to Tucson.

2. Supporting Water Conservation

Data Point: 84% of resident respondents feel water conservation should be a priority for tourism businesses.

Opportunity: Visit Tucson should supply programs and tools to help businesses understand options that deliver effective environmental conservation practices, including conserving water—while helping fulfill City of Tucson and Pima County resiliency and water sustainability goals.

3. Expanding Support for the Tourism Economy

Data Point: 62% of resident respondents feel that without tax revenues from tourists, residents would have to pay higher state and local taxes for government programs and services. (This finding is 34% higher than the US norm.)

Opportunity: By continuing and expanding efforts to ensure that residents understand tourism’s contributions to the local economy, Visit Tucson should showcase tourism as a primary economic driver for the area and ensure continued resident support.

Key Findings from the 2023 National Resident Sentiment Survey
The Visit Tucson results align with several findings from the latest Longwoods International survey, detailed in the 2023 National Resident Sentiment Industry Brief.
DMO Role in Placemaking

The latest national study reinforces the notion that destination organizations are responsible for developing a place where people want to visit and, in doing so, creating a place where people want to live, work, and invest. Research from this year’s national study shows that half of Americans agree that tourism attracts both new residents (50%) and businesses (52%) to their area.

Support for Tourism

Americans recognize that tourism has both positive and negative impacts, but promisingly, six in ten (60%) agree that in general, the positive benefits of tourism outweigh the negative impacts. This has incrementally increased each year since 2020, when 55% of Americans agreed with this sentiment.

Opportunities for DMOs to Promote their Destination Stewardship Efforts

However, the survey results also turned up opportunities for DMOs. Four in ten respondents agreed tourism is a good alternative to more environmentally damaging development (42%) and can help the environment as local governments and residents seek to protect sensitive and scenic areas (41%).

However, less than four in ten residents (36%) agreed with the statement “My local government is doing a good job balancing resident quality of life and visitor satisfaction,” and one-third (33%) reported neutral sentiments..

Recommendations to Further Community Alignment

These findings represent a golden opportunity to connect with residents. Longwoods International offered three recommendations to DMOs:

  • Highlight destination stewardship efforts,
  • Demonstrate commitment to environmental sustainability, and
  • Continue advocacy to ensure that residents are aware that your DMO’s efforts align with community values.

Doing so will build needed support for your tourism economy. For many more detailed findings, download the 2023 National Resident Sentiment Industry Brief.

Learn More

Resident sentiment research results provide valuable insights to guide the direction of destination organizations. If your organization has not commissioned a resident sentiment study, it’s time to do so. If your organization completed a recent study, it’s time to reexamine it for community alignment.

Longwoods International and Clarity of Place can help. Please contact us for more information.