Henderson County residents harbour negative thoughts on tourism: Survey

Published on : Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Results are in from the June Henderson County Tourism Development Authority resident survey, with nearly 850 residents offering their insights into how they feel about where they live and about the visitors coming here.

One of the biggest takeaways from the survey was that 80 per cent of residents feel proud to live here and said they think it is a wonderful place to reside, with friendly people, great access to recreation and beautiful, natural scenery, the HCTDA said in a news release.

In terms of tourism, residents had a mostly positive response, with 94 per cent of survey takers saying they felt tourism is beneficial and necessary for the community. Nearly half of everyone who participated in the survey is employed in a jobin the tourism sector or supports it.

More than half of all respondents have been to the Visitor Centre and used the HCTDA’s website.
The survey also shed light on one of the major concerns: over-tourism and its effects. Forty-one percent of respondents believe there is too much tourism, and 35 per cent responded that locals cannot enjoy the community because of the number of visitors, with 62 per cent citing tourism as the reason for an increase in traffic.

The survey also included an open comments section, and several expressed concern that Henderson County could lose its unique charm due to rapid growth and to certain locations – such as Main Street and DuPont State Recreational Forest – being overwhelmed by tourists.

Other tourism-related comments focused on the need for parks and recreation support.

“The survey and these comments can help Henderson County Tourism to determine its goals moving forward,” Michelle Owens, HCTDA’s executive director, said in the release.

“We must be thoughtful in our advertising and messaging, and in how we communicate with our partners and the community. One way we can achieve this is that we can focus on maximizing the visitor’s experience and overall dollars spent rather than simply the number of visitors brought to town.”

The goal of the HCTDA is to support tourism and businesses in this industry, knowing that the money spent by visitors benefits these local businesses, creates jobs and generates tax revenue.

In conducting thesurvey, the HCTDA hoped to ensure the direction being pursued and the image being projected to visitors was congruent with the county residents’ values, as well as consider the impacts of tourism on the community.
The survey was conducted by SMARInsights in two segments. The first and smaller segment was a group that was sought out to equally represent all segments of the population living in Henderson County (to include all ages, races, genders and incomes) in order to get a baseline of opinions.

The second segment was opened to the community at large, and any resident was eligible to complete the survey.

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