The Shoton Festival in Tibet: Local Perceptions of Impacts
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This study examines residents' perceptions of the economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts of the annual Shoton Festival held in Lhasa city, Tibet. It reviews international literature on festival tourism and draws on Social Exchange Theory to undertake the research and analyse results. An on-line questionnaire was constructed and distributed through two mainstream social media networks. It was completed by 150 residents in Lhasa city. In the questionnaire, 28 statements were used to measure residents? perceptions of the economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts of the festival. Participants were also asked questions about age, ethnicity, occupation, educational levels, gender, income and length of residency, A Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to examine the relationship between demographic variables and Lhasa residents? perception. The findings of this study show that, despite concerns about social-cultural and environmental impacts, residents agreed that positive impacts of the festival largely outweighed their negative impacts and they would welcome tourists to future festivals. Nonetheless, there are issues that need to be addressed such as educating tourists about local customs and reducing environmental pollution and waste. These are useful findings for local decision-makers which they can use in developing strategies to improve the experience of the Shoton Festival for tourists and residents, including involving local people more closely in planning and managing the Festival and its related activities. The findings in this study will also help contribute to an enhanced understanding of the impacts of festival tourism in Tibet and may also yield useful insights for other Chinese festivals, providing a useful tool for decision makers and event organisers looking to improve the quality of festival tourism.