Local Community Attitude and Support Towards Tourism Development at Saint Martin Island, Bangladesh: Local Community Attitude and Support

Local Community Attitude and Support Towards Tourism Development at Saint Martin Island, Bangladesh: Local Community Attitude and Support

Md. Abdul Hai (Department of Marketing, Dhaka City College, Dhaka, Bangladesh) and Md. Badsha Alamgir (Department of Marketing, Dhaka City College, Dhaka, Bangladesh)
DOI: 10.4018/IJTHMDA.2017070103


Tourism development, a double-edged sword for local communities, is the influenced by attitude of the residents. Favorable attitudes of local community escalate tourists' satisfaction levels. The study focuses on local community attitude and support towards tourism development of Saint Martin Island in Bangladesh. Using judgmental sampling procedure, a sample of 175 local residents was surveyed through a self-administered questionnaire and data were analyzed with descriptive statistics and ANOVA. The findings of the study indicate that the Saint Martin Island-community supports future tourism development based on the personal benefit they receive. ANOVA analysis shows significant differences among the local community attitude and support to the tourism development based on profession, age, education, and family income. The study may ensure the commercial, socio-cultural, physiological, political and economic development of the community that enhance sustainability for the industry and it may also help the government to shape future tourism development for the island.
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1. Introduction

In recent times, tourism is one of the most dynamically developing sectors in the world economy and plays a very special role in the development and sustainability of Bangladeshi economy. Tourism comprises the activities in pursuit of persons traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes (UN-WTO, 2001). “Tourism is a study of people away from their usual habitat, of the industry which responds to their needs, and of the impacts that both they and the industry have on the host and guests sociocultural, economic and physical environments” (Jafari and Pizam 2002:6499). Tourism industry is experiencing a rapid growth with holistic support from local residents who involved directly and indirectly in this sector. Tourism sector, acknowledged as one of the major attributes for cultural, economic and environmental development today, is perceived as an offer of opportunity to the local communities. The growth of the tourism industry is crucial to the economic growth and the related field such as transportation, leisure services and many other sectors. On the other side, tourism also becomes the means of support for the local communities especially in changing the economic atmosphere. So, tourism industry is able to generate income, currency exchanges and provide the employment opportunities (Hanafiah, Harun & Jamaludin, 2010). The rapid growth of tourism industry will certainly transform the tourist destination spot, however, if not an unplanned tourism development, since it could lead to environmental degradation and socio-economic disparity among the local community. Local residents are the main stakeholders of tourism development and the studies on local community attitudes toward future tourism development is increasing due to the nexus between the community support and government plan for future development. The study conducted by Kuvan and Akan (2005) also indicates that residents with tourism-related jobs not only display more positive attitudes, but are also less disapproving of its negative effects in comparison with their fellow residents who do not have jobs related with the tourism sector. Residents who do not enjoy these economic benefits are more critical of tourism's negative effects.

Saint Martin is the only coral island in Bangladesh. It is only 8 km2 dumb-bell shaped sedimentary continental island located in the northeast part of the Bay of Bengal and about 9 km far from the Cox's Bazar-Teknaf peninsula tip, and it is about 8 km west of the northwest coast of Myanmar at the mouth of the Naf river (Chowdhury, 2012). However, the first settlement started just 250 years ago by some Arabian sailors who named the island ‘Zajira’ and after that it was renamed Saint Martin island by the British, who ruled the Indian subcontinent from 1757 to 1947. But the real local settlement began on the island in 1880s. Later, it has been called in several local names such as Narical Gingira, Coral Island, and Daruchini Dwip. Currently, there are about 6,000 people amidst about half of the population live primarily on fishing while the other staple livelihood sources are tourism, agriculture, and day labor. More permanent structures are situated mainly on the far north part of the island, while farmlands and huts comprise the centre and the south (Kabir, 2006). Recently, it has become a popular tourist spot in Bangladesh and the surrounding coral reef of the island has an extension named Chera Dwip wherein a small bush is the only green part which adds beauty, but people do not live in this part. Recently, the number of tourists has dramatically increased and many efforts have already been made to preserve the several endangered species of turtles and corals and the island is covered all about sun, sea and palm trees. In addition to, the sun rise and sun set are two of the most beautiful events that can be enjoyed from here. Even though Saint Martin is playing a major role in the tourism industries, accommodation facilities in that area somehow are limited which affects the total number of tourists (Trip Advisor, 2012). November to February is the best tourists season when weather is good but March to July is dull season due to rough weather.

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