Community support for festivals linked to how much locals know about the good they can do

Residents’ attitudes to hosting festivals positively influenced by perceptions of whether they bring social and cultural benefits, concludes study involving IFT scholars

Research Corner | A partnership between Macau Business and the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT)

A study involving two scholars from Macau’s Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT) says local authorities should step up efforts to raise awareness among residents about the social and cultural benefits that hosting festivals bring to the city. Raising such awareness, the authors argue, could drive community support regarding development of festival tourism, helping to diversify Macau’s overall tourism offering.

“While many Macau residents realise the economic benefits that festivals have brought to the city, the socio-cultural benefits are less visible,” the researchers explained. They added it was important to revise that situation as their study results indicate that locals are more supportive of hosting festivals when they perceive positive social and cultural benefits from them.

The authors added that festival planners – and people in local government responsible for managing the image of Macau as a destination – “should therefore communicate the benefits of festival development through different marketing techniques and channels, to gain residents’ collaboration and support.”

The comments were featured in the paper Is QOL a better predictor of support for festival development? A social-cultural perspective produced by IFT scholars Li Xiangping and Penny Wan in partnership with United States-based academic Muzaffer ‘Muzzo’ Uysal. ‘QOL’ refers to ‘quality of life’. The work was published in February in the online version of the scholarly journal Current Issues in Tourism.

The purpose of the study was to analyse locals’ support for the development of festival tourism. It sought to explore the perceived social and cultural impacts of such events plus resident satisfaction with the social and cultural aspects of their lives as well as their respective satisfaction regarding their life as a whole.

The study results were based upon face-to-face interviews answered by 280 respondents. The sample comprised people holding Macau residency, all of whom were 18 years of age or older.

From roadshows to brainstorming sessions

The authors suggested several ways to increase awareness among Macau residents regarding the social and cultural benefits brought to the city by the hosting of festivals. “For instance, roadshows and TV shows could be produced to highlight those social-cultural benefits to locals and to let them feel pride in hosting the festivals,” they said.

“Macao Government Tourist Office could organise some activities at the festivals allowing local residents to interact more with tourists,” the researchers added. “During some festivals local residents could be given opportunities to introduce local food to tourists; or some activities and games could allow tourists and locals to form teams to win prizes or gifts. Some activities could be designed for children, enhancing the awareness of local people of the benefits of hosting festivals.”

The study results additionally suggested residents were “more positive about, and supportive of, festival development when their social-cultural life quality increases and they are satisfied with their life as a whole,” said the researchers.

“As festivals play crucial roles in enhancing individual wellbeing and daily life socially and emotionally it is essential for governments and festival organisers to plan, design and organise festivals for local residents that help enhance their life satisfaction and quality of life through their participation,” the authors stated.

“Festivals should appear interesting, fun and meaningful for locals in order to draw their participation,” suggested the research paper. “During the festival design stage, organisers could collect local residents’ opinions on the festivals that they are interested in hosting,” and incorporate such feedback into their plans, the authors stated.

“Brainstorming workshops could be organised in each district in Macau to collect such opinions” and record the interests of community members, the researchers suggested. “In this manner, local residents would be more willing to become involved in the festivals, could better appreciate the socio-cultural benefits of festivals, and eventually would show more support for festival hosting.”

The researchers

Li Xiangping

Li Xiangping is an Assistant Professor at IFT. Dr. Li has a PhD in hospitality and tourism management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, in Virginia, in the United States. Her research interests include sustainable tourism development, destination marketing, and tourist behaviour.

Penny Wan

IFT visiting Assistant Professor Penny Wan holds a PhD from the University of Hong Kong. Her academic research focuses on sustainable tourism planning, heritage management, casino gaming management, and hospitality services. Dr. Wan has served as an editorial board member and reviewer for several high-profile academic journals in the field of tourism.

Muzaffer ‘Muzzo’ Uysal chairs the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the Isenberg School of Management in the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in the U.S. He holds a PhD from Texas A&M University, in Texas, also in the U.S. His academic research interests include tourism development, economic impacts of tourism, and quality-of-life (QOL) research in hospitality and tourism.

The paper

Xiangping Li, Yim King Penny Wan and Muzaffer Uysal: Is QOL a better predictor of support for festival development? A social-cultural perspective, Current Issues in Tourism, 2019